In 2021, the Vietnam Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) published the outline of the draft Telecoms Law for public consultation.

Earlier this week, the MIC published the full version of the draft Telecoms Law for a two-month public consultation.

The deadline for comment submission to the MIC is 27 December 2022.

The draft Telecoms Law is set to replace the existing law and consists of 79 articles and 11 chapters. The lawmakers mainly aim to broaden the scope of the existing law to cover IoT devices, data center services, cloud-computing businesses, and OTT communication services in the draft law. Importantly, the draft law has clear extra-territorial applicability concerning those new services.

Below is a summary of notable new requirements under the draft Telecoms Law:

  • OTT communication service (referred to as “information communication service not using telecom number storage” in the draft law):
  • The draft law’s wording suggests that only standalone OTT messaging or calling apps will be viewed as OTT communication service. In other words, OTT messaging or calling functions of a social network, which are non-essential functions of another service, will not fall into this category.
  • Offshore service providers will have to, among other things, (i) notify the MIC of its contact point, (ii) notify its users of emergency numbers, (iii) ensure the users’ access to the emergency numbers, and (iv) waive fees for calls to the emergency numbers.
  • The draft law also suggests that OTT communication service is a telecom service. To this end, the draft law requires that the cross-border provision of any telecom services must be rendered based on a commercial agreement with a licensed Vietnamese telecom provider (i.e., foreign service providers must contract with a local entity in order to provide services across borders into Vietnam). Furthermore, the Vietnamese telecom provider contracting with a foreign service provider will have to register the agreement form with a competent state authority.
  • Data center and cloud-computing services: the service provider must register via an online portal of the MIC and comply with a set of requirements that will later be clarified by the Government. Other notable obligations include protecting users’ information, taking down illegal content, and notifying local state agencies upon detection of illegal activities such as service abuse.

Manh-Hung Tran is the practice group leader of the Intellectual Property (IP) and Technology Practice Groups of Vietnam offices. For years, he has been constantly ranked as a leading IP lawyer by numerous researchers such as Chambers Global and Chambers Asia. He regularly writes articles concerning pressing legal issues in both English and Vietnamese, and his works have been published regularly in various reputable publications. He has assisted the government in reviewing and revising the IP Law, the IP provisions under the country’s criminal code, the draft e-Transaction Law, and the first draft Personal Data Protection Decree, etc. While Hung's practices run the full gamut of IP work, he also specializes in the Telecommunications, Media, and Technology (TMT) practice, advising multinational corporations on data privacy, monetization, product reviews, AdTech, regulatory and user rights, cybersecurity, e-commerce, offshore social media, digital services, data breach and incidents, and other emerging technologies. He has been assisting international film studios and streaming clients with various film and TV series productions in Vietnam.