To enforce more rigorous control of cross-border advertising activities, the Vietnamese government issued Decree No. 70/2021/ND-CP dated July 20, 2021 (Decree 70), amending and supplementing provisions of Decree No. 181/2013/ND-CP dated November 14, 2013, elaborating on some articles of the Law on Advertising. Decree 70 will take effect on September 15, 2021.
According to the Deputy Director of the Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information, Decree 70 will help news media agencies have better control over cross-border advertisements on platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and Google. To that end, Decree 70 stipulates new obligations for these providers while also consolidating executive authority over cross-border advertising activities under the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC).
Revised Obligations for Cross-Border Advertising Services
The most significant revision by Decree 70 is the overhaul of Article 13, which provides the definitions and obligations for cross-border advertising service providers. Article 13 redefines cross-border advertising service as the utilization of websites hosted outside Vietnam to provide ads targeted at Vietnamese consumers and profit from activities in Vietnam. Notably, Article 13 defines such websites as a “single or multi-website system … providing users with services for storage, provision, use, search, or exchange of information, sound or image sharing, forum creation, or live chat to supply advertising services.” This would effectively encompass many types of online environments, specifically social network sites, such as Facebook.
In addition, more entities will be taxed on cross-border advertising revenue under Article 13, including not only service providers but also both domestic and overseas advertisers.
Similar to offshore social network providers, cross-border advertising services must comply with Vietnam’s cybersecurity and intellectual property laws in addition to the Law on Advertising. Decree 70 requires service providers to provide the MIC with direct contact information 15 days before commencing cross-border advertising activities in Vietnam as well as annual or ad hoc reports. Service providers must also block and remove illegal or infringing content from their advertising platforms upon the MIC’s request, as well as supply information on organizations or individuals suspected of illegal online advertising activities. Decree 70 also grants advertisers the right to demand service providers to supply means for monitoring and removing illegal advertising content.
MIC’s Control over Cross-Border Advertising Services
In the past, cross-border advertising services were under the supervisory authority of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. Decree 70 revises this and consolidates all supervisory authority under the MIC. Departments and agencies of all levels must vigilantly detect illegal cross-border advertising activities and report to the MIC. Within a five-day window, the MIC will conduct investigations and notify service providers of the illegal ad content or activities that must be addressed or removed in 24 hours. If service providers fail to adhere to the MIC’s request, the MIC will take any appropriate legal measures to block the illegal advertisement. This authority is also extended to other competent agencies should the offense threaten Vietnam’s national security. It is unclear what the blocking measures would entail under Decree 70. It remains to be seen how this mechanism will work in practice.