Vu Hoang Ha Thu, Legal Assistant, Indochine Counsel
One of the government policies on the management, provision and use of internet services and online information, under Decree No 72/2013/ND-CP dated July 15, 2013, states that only information in accordance with Vietnamese laws may be transmitted to internet users within Viet Nam, even if it is cross-border transmission.
To implement this policy, the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) issued Circular No. 38/2016/TT-BTTTT on December 26, 201, detailing the cross-border distribution of public information. The circular came into effect on February 15, 2017.
As defined in Circular 38, cross-border provision of public information refers to any act by offshore organisations/individuals using websites, social networks, online applications, search services and other online methods to provide public information that users, be it organisations or individuals, in Viet Nam may access or use, wherein public information is, as defined in Decree 72, online information of an organisation or individual that is made public to all entities without the need to identify the specific name or address of such entities.
Circular 38 requires that foreign entities providing public information to users in Viet Nam (information providers) shall observe the regulations and laws of Viet Nam and shall cooperate with the MIC in addressing violations, if any.
In cases where an information provider provides illegal public information to Viet Nam, or refuses to cooperate with the MIC in addressing violations, Viet Nam’s authorised management agencies may take necessary technical measures to block their access from Viet Nam.
Regarding steps taken in case of violations, Circular 38 states that upon detecting illegal public information being provided from outside its borders into Viet Nam, the MIC will notify the information provider of the violation and make specific requests so that the issue is addressed, removing the information or blocking access from Viet Nam (first notification).
The information provider will have 24 hours from receipt of the MIC’s notification to verify and process the issue. If the information provider does not meet the MIC’s request within the prescribed time limit, the MIC will issue a second notification, and the service provider will have another 24 hours to comply with the MIC’s request or give feedback to the MIC.
For implementing this cooperation mechanism, Circular 38 requires that an information provider who rents space in Viet Nam for storing its public information for the purpose of providing service, or has one million or more visitors from Viet Nam per month, shall notify the MIC of its contact details, which includes, for organisations, the registered company name and address, trade name, location of the main server for providing service, and contact persons in the registered country and in Viet Nam. The notification can be sent directly to the MIC, via post or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. — Indochine Counsel