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Last 12th of June during the Fifth Session of the 14 National Assembly the Vietnam government voted in favor of a new Cybersecurity Law. The previously mentioned, which will take effect next January 1st, 2019, will focus on social media usage, data localization, Cybersecurity audit of information systems of agencies and organizations, handling illegal content, and protection of children.
Among the good things, (yes, there are good things in this law), there are certain terms in this new Law on Cyber information security that have raised major concerns both in and out of Vietnam. The new regulation tightens the already strict government’s control on the Internet, drawing groups such as Amnesty International to decry that there is “no safe place for people to speak freely” in Vietnam (as if there is such a thing before).
Without going too deep into the political impact of this new law, I will only focus on the possible impacts it may have on your business in and outside of Vietnam.
Increased operation cost: According to Article 15, social media users can be persecuted for posting “information on cyberspace classified as illegal includes anti-state information; information that excites violent disturbance, undermines security and deranges public order; information that causes defamation and slander; information that violates economic management order; and false information that causes public panics, damages socio-economic activities, hampers state agencies’ activities and on-duty persons and violates rights and benefits of other organizations and individuals”.
If you have reviews or other users’ contributed sections on your website, you may have to put more effort into pre-screening the content before publishing it, or you may risk violating the law.
Technical challenges: When it comes to data localization personal information; data about users’ relationships; and all other data generated by users in Vietnam must be stored in local servers. However, it is still unclear whether data must be stored exclusively in Vietnam, and so are several other aspects of the new law.
If you are an international company targeting Vietnam and other markets, you may need to start considering how to comply with the new rule or decide to shut down operations in Vietnam temporarily.
Consumers’ backslash: in the case that you can satisfy all the conditions to continue to keep your services in Vietnam, it may come to the time that you have to comply with the law and hand over the information of specific users on your website. Your company may suffer from possible backslashes and pressure from various rights groups and governments as well as consumers from other parts of the world if the incident has anything to do with free speech and human rights.
What to do with this new law? It is up to you. There are pros and cons, for most businesses it’s just another hoop you have to jump through, for some others it may lead to considerable changes in the way you do business. At Nilead, we host our clients’ websites across the globe, and for the clients who have business in Vietnam, we are already in the process of setting up hosting services here right in Vietnam to ensure we are 100% ready for our clients when the time comes.