On 17 July 2023, the Ministry of Information and Communication of Vietnam (“MIC”) released a new version of the Draft Decree (“Draft Decree”), replacing Decree No. 72/2013/ND-CP of the Vietnam Government on the management, provision, and use of Internet services and online information (“Decree 72”). This new version (intended to repeal Decree 72) is now circulating for public consultation. The Draft Decree follows on the heels of an initial draft in the form of an amendment to Decree 72, which has been in the pipeline since 2021.
As a brief introduction, Decree 72 serves as the primary legislation governing internet services and online information. It covers various aspects, such as online gaming services, social network services, information services, and the cross-border provision of public information. Decree 72 broadly encompasses a wide range of industries experiencing rapid expansion and playing a crucial role in the economy over the past decade. The exponential growth of internet services and online information has compelled Vietnamese legislators to amend relevant legislation with deliberation to keep pace with the evolving socioeconomic landscape.
This legal update highlights the salient points set out in the Draft Decree.
1. New obligations on cross-border information providers
By way of background, “cross-border information providers” refer to foreign organizations and individuals that provide information and information content services on a cross-border basis for users in Vietnam in the form of websites, social networks, online applications, and other similar types (“CIP”). With this definition, well-known social media platforms like Facebook (Meta), TikTok, Twitter, application stores (e.g. App Store, Play Store), and foreign e-newspapers/magazines will be categorized as CIPs.
The list of obligations applied to CIPs supplying services to Vietnam on a cross-border basis has been significantly extended. In detail, CIPs (i) leasing space in data centers in Vietnam or (ii) reaching a total number of visits from Vietnam of 100,000 or more on a regular basis per month for six consecutive months will incur the following obligations:
- Periodic reports and ad hoc reports at the request of the MIC’s Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information (“ABEI”);
- Provide search engine, content scanning tools upon request from the MIC;
- Only allow persons 16 years of age and older to register their accounts. For those under 16 years, the registration of their account must be conducted using their parent/legal guardian’s information;
- Inspect, monitor, and remove information, services, and applications that violate the Law on Cybersecurity and/or prohibited activities as mentioned in the Draft Decree;
- Prevent and remove illegal content, services, and applications upon request from the MIC;
- Application stores to allow only Vietnamese applications which are duly licensed and/or holding valid certificates/permits as required by law to be uploaded; to comply with Vietnamese regulations on payment; to remove applications that violate the law upon request from the MIC within 24 hours after the receipt of such request;
- Localize Vietnamese users’ personal information, including full name, date of birth, email address, and mobile phone number in Vietnam; and
- Implement user account verification with mobile phone numbers during the registration process.
2. New regulations on livestreaming
Livestream is a feature allowing social media accounts to stream real-time videos online. This function has been widely used recently in Vietnam. The Draft Decree introduces several provisions aimed at tighter regulation of these activities, specifically:
- Livestreaming services are exclusively permitted for social networks possessing a valid social network license issued to domestic enterprises or for foreign enterprises offering cross-border services in Vietnam, provided they possess an operation notice with the MIC;
- When providing information through live streaming, Accounts, fan pages, channels, and groups on social networks must comply with specialized laws.
3. Amendments pertaining to the regulation of online games
The essence of the Draft Decree regarding cross-border online game services from offshore remains unaltered when compared with Decree 72. Accordingly, the provision of online games from overseas sources to users in Vietnam is still not allowed. Offshore entities offering online game services must establish a local entity in Vietnam to provide such services in compliance with the provisions outlined in the Draft Decree, which includes the requirement to obtain necessary licenses and permits.
Notably reflecting the State’s policy of restricting gambling games, in order to safeguard public security and order, online games containing content and scenarios that simulate games with rewards in casino establishments, as well as games utilizing playing card imagery, will not be granted licenses as stipulated in the Draft Decree.
The licensing mechanism for online game providers is maintained by way of a two-tiered licensing process: (i) License/Certificate granted to online game services providers (G1/G2, G3, G4) (for assessing the infrastructure and technical capabilities of the enterprise); and (ii) Decision/Certificate of issuance for G1/G2, G3, G4 games (which involve evaluating and verifying the content and scenarios of the game before it is released and follows obtainment of the license/certificate in (i)). However, some technical conditions during the licensing process have been removed and/or amended to create a more favorable environment for businesses.
In addition to those above, the Draft Decree brings forth several new measures aimed at protecting the rights of social media users, as well as preventing violations of the law by adding new measures of temporarily and permanently blocking social media accounts, pages, groups, and channels that repeatedly or significantly breach national security regulations on social networks. For businesses involved in relevant fields, it is crucial to closely monitor all updates and amendments to the Draft Decree. This will enable enterprises to make necessary operations adjustments to ensure full compliance with the law. Additionally, businesses are also encouraged to actively participate in the regulation refinement process by providing feedback/comments through the MIC portal at the link:
The Draft Decree is expected to be passed in the fourth quarter of 2023.
The information provided is for information purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice. Legal advice should be obtained from qualified legal counsel for all specific situations.