Draft decree aims to regulate cross-border internet activity

by Nguyen Thi Hong Anh, Partner and Head of IP&T Practice Group

Viet Nam has licensed 102 internet enterprises as from April this year, of which 60 have begun providing services, according to statistics from the Ministry of Information and Communications. Another 850 websites and 130 social networks have been granted operating licences. The increase in internet services and use has led the Government to prepare new regulations to address growing issues related to internet use.

A draft decree on internet services and online information would replace Decree No 97/2008/ND-CP recently issued in August. Another draft decree would establish administrative sanstion for violations of internet regulations which would replace Decree No 28/2009/ND-CP of March 2009.

The first of these draft decrees would address for the first time obligations of foreign enterprises providing cross-border online information in Viet Nam via an offshore server. Such a foreign entity would be required to commit to co-ordinating with the Vietnamese Ministry of Information and Communications and accept the obligation to remove information that violates the laws of Viet Nam or provides personal information of users in relation to terrorist or criminal activity.

They would also be required to locate at least one server in Viet Nam for inspection, testing, storage, and supply of information as requested by the State bodies and in response to customer complaints over services. At the request of the ministry, the foreign entity would also be required to provide equipment for registering and storing information about persons who provide public information on a social network, in order to connect and verify information with the electronic identity card information database of the Ministry of Public Security.

Finally, the foreign entity must establish a representative office or notify the ministry of the name, address, telephone number, fax number and email address of its representative in Viet Nam.

Under the draft decree, all entities shall be responsible for the information they store, transmit, supply and spread online. Internet service users will also be subject to fines of VND5-VND10 million (US$236-$476) for providing, spreading or transmitting illegal information online.

Entities establishing websites shall also be required to supervise, examine and eliminate information in breach of the law either upon discovery of the breach or upon written request by competent authorities.

Under the draft decree on penalties, a foreign entity providing cross-border information to users in Viet Nam who violated any of these regulations would be subject to a fine of VND30-VND100 million ($1,428-$).

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