Vietnam is releasing a brand-new draft decree superseding Decree No. 72/2013/ND-CP (as amended) (“Decree 72”) on the management, provisions, and use of Internet services and online information (“Draft Decree”).

By way of background, Decree 72 is the Vietnamese key legislation regulating Internet services and online information, including but not limited to online game services, social network services, and the provision of “public information” on a cross-border basis which broadly captures any services and/or applications that may be made available to Vietnamese users.

The project of amending Decree 72, led by the Ministry of Information and Communications (“MIC”), has been in the pipeline since 2021.

The MIC initially proposed a draft decree amending Decree 72, however, due to the paramount amounts of provisions subject to changes, the MIC then decided to prepare the Draft Decree to completely superseded Decree 72. The Draft Decree now is around 203 pages!

Yesterday, a new version of the Draft Decree has been issued for public consultation. The MIC will collect public opinion and comments on the Draft Decree until 15 September 2023 (60 days from the publication of the Draft Decree per the law).

Here is a list of key issues under the Draft Decree:

1. Regulated Cross-border Services: New obligations of those providing public information on a cross-border basis and (a) using the service of leasing space in data centers or (ii) having the number of frequent total visits from Vietnam per month of 100,000 or more in six (6) consecutive months (“Regulated Cross-border Services”) include:

  • To inspect, monitor and remove information, services and applications that violate Article 8.1 of the Law on Cybersecurity, and Article 5.1 of Decree 72. This could mean that companies such as social network platform and app store providers must proactively monitor user-generated content on their platforms and remove information, services and applications that violate local law.
  • To localize Vietnamese users’ data (including name, DOB, email, and mobile phone number) in Vietnam;
  • To verify the account registration against the users’ mobile number;
  • To only allow persons above 16 years of age to register for an account.

For persons under 16 years of age, the account must be registered with the information of the parent / legal guardian; and

  • To provide tools for searching and scanning content upon request of the MIC.

2. App stores: New obligations for Regulated Cross-border Services being app stores include:

  • To only allow those that have obtained relevant licenses, certifications, or registrations as required under the laws to publish applications on the store;
  • To comply with payment regulations under Vietnamese laws; and
  • To remove illegal applications from the apps store within 24 hours upon the request from the MIC.

3. Online games: Cross-border provision of online games remains to be prohibited.

  • Similar to the current Decree 72, the Draft Decree requires that offshore entities providing online games services must set up a local entity in Vietnam to provide the service in accordance with the Draft Decree (including the obligation to obtain relevant licenses and permits).

The clock is clicking and relevant businesses and stakeholders have a short time window to advocate and provide comments on the Draft Decree.