Sun, Nov 04, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Vietnam releases cybersecurity draft

Reuters, HANOI

Vietnam on Friday released a long-awaited draft decree on guidelines to implement a cybersecurity law that global technology companies and rights groups have said could undermine development and stifle innovation.

The draft requires firms providing a range of services, including e-mail or social media, to set up offices in Vietnam if they collect or analyze data, let their users conduct anti-state actions or cyberattacks and if they fail to remove content deemed anti-state, fake, slandering or inciting violence.

Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google, both of which are widely used in Vietnam and serve as the main platforms for dissidents, do not have local offices or local data storage facilities, and have pushed back on the localization requirements.

Legislators approved the law in June, overriding strong objections from tech companies, rights groups and Western governments including the US.

Despite economic reforms and increasing openness to social change, the Communist Party of Vietnam retains tight media censorship and does not tolerate dissent.

The technology companies had hoped the draft decree would soften provisions they find most objectionable, including the requirements to set up local offices and store data locally.

The data required to be stored range from job titles to contact details, credit card information, biometric data and medical records, according to the draft decree.

The type of data required seemed to have shortened from an earlier version of the draft decree seen by reporters last month, which also included information on peoples’ ethnicity and political views.

Company officials have privately expressed concerns that the new law would make it easier for the authorities to seize customer data and expose local employees to arrest.

The draft decree is open for public consultation for two months.

“We applaud the government of Vietnam for launching a public consultation and hope to work with them to reach an outcome which benefits all stakeholders in Vietnam,” said Alex Botting, director of the US Chamber of Commerce’s Center for Global Regulatory Cooperation.

“The text of Vietnam’s law on cybersecurity included some of the most draconian data localization provisions seen anywhere in the world,” Botting said.

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