Social media and communications apps are periodically blocked, but were otherwise available during the coverage period. Access to Facebook and Instagram was last interrupted in May , during protests in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City against an environmental disaster caused by a steel plant owned by Formosa, a Taiwanese company. Demonstrators criticized Formosa for discharging toxic chemicals that led to millions of fish washing up dead along the central coast, and the government for failing to adequately respond to the crisis.
The mainstream media failed to cover the rallies, which increased Facebook's importance as a means of sharing information and organizing public events see "Digital Activism". Operators of at least three tools used to circumvent blocking reported a dramatic spike in the number of their Vietnamese users on May 15, , coinciding with reports that social media platforms were inaccessible; the platforms had likely been blocked.
In general, censorship is implemented by ISPs, rather than at the backbone or international gateway level. Specific URLs are generally identified for censorship and placed on blacklists. Censorship frequently targets high-profile blogs or websites with many followers, as well as content considered threatening to the rule of the CPV, including political dissent, advocacy for human rights and democracy, and criticism of the government's reaction to border and maritime disputes with China.
Content promoting organized religions such as Buddhism, Roman Catholicism, and the Cao Dai group, which the state considers a potential threat, is blocked to a lesser but still significant degree. ISPs use different techniques to inform customers of their compliance with blocking orders. While some notify users when an inaccessible site has been deliberately blocked, others post an apparently benign error message.
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The CPV's Department for Culture and Ideology, the MIC, the Propaganda Committee, and various other authorities regularly instruct online outlets to remove content they perceive as problematic, through nontransparent, often verbal orders. This has led users to employ the common practice of sharing screenshots of online articles that they think are likely to be removed later, rather than sharing their links.
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In February , the government tightened pressure on international companies to remove content the authorities categorized as "toxic. Meanwhile, the Vietnam-based operations of several multinational companies withdrew advertising from popular social media platforms Facebook and YouTube at the request of Vietnamese government ministries. As of early , the MIC had worked with Facebook to remove accounts it condemned as "spreading reactionary, anti-Party, anti-state information, defaming Vietnamese leaders and the state," with the ultimate goal of removing 5, accounts.
Other entities with financial and political influence may exert control over online content or discourage free expression. In , online reports of an animal welfare crisis at a safari park operated by Vingroup, one of the country's largest conglomerates, on Phu Quoc island in southern Vietnam, led to a Facebook campaign questioning the importation and treatment of wild animals. Shortly afterward, Facebook temporarily deactivated the accounts of users who had previously discussed the issue, and a post by a Facebook page administrator asserted that they must cease posting about the case "for security reasons," according to the BBC Vietnamese service, leading observers to believe that users could face reprisals from Vingroup or its supporters.
Content removal instructions cover social as well as political content. It requires intermediaries — including those based overseas — to regulate third-party contributors in cooperation with the state, and to "eliminate or prevent information" prohibited under Article 5. The circular also tightened procedures for registering and licensing new social media sites.
Among other requirements, the person responsible for the platform must have at least a university degree. It also requires Vietnamese companies that operate general websites and social networks, including blogging platforms, to locate a server system in Vietnam and to store posted information for 90 days, and certain metadata for up to two years.
Further, it did not outline clear penalties for noncompliance. Internet content producers face a range of pressures that affect the quality of online information. All content produced by newspapers and online news outlets must pass through in-house censorship before publication. In weekly meetings, detailed instructions handed out by a CPV committee to editors dictate areas and themes to report on or suppress, as well as the allowed depth of coverage.
These fines can be applied for offenses not serious enough to merit criminal prosecution. The decree outlined additional fines for violations related to online commerce. These economic and social penalties, in addition to the risk of criminal prosecution, lead to a high degree of self-censorship. The unpredictable and nontransparent ways in which topics become prohibited make it difficult for users to know what might be off-limits, and bloggers and forum administrators routinely disable commenting functions to prevent controversial discussions.
The government also actively seeks to manipulate public opinion online. At the end of , General Nguyen Trong Nghia, at the CPV's national conference on propaganda, introduced Force 47, a new military unit with over 10, staff, "well qualified and loyal to the revolution," whose task is to fight "wrong, distorting opinions" online. Although government-run outlets continue to dominate, new domestic online outlets and social media sites are expanding the traditional media landscape.
Young, educated Vietnamese are increasingly turning to blogs, social media, and other online news sources over state TV and radio. Activists continued to use social media during the reporting period. Some activists have tens of thousands of followers, even in the face of intensifying government pressure see "Content Removal" and "Prosecutions and Detentions for Online Activities". Her blog has close to 20, visitors per day.
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Digital mobilization in Vietnam tends to be local, rather than national, in scale, and often revolves around environmental issues, as well as concerns about the expansion of China's influence. In June after this report's coverage period , widespread protests spread throughout the country against two proposed laws: the cybersecurity bill see Legal Environment and a bill that aims to allow foreign investors to lease land in special economic zones for up to 99 years.
Critics fear the law will enable further Chinese encroachment on Vietnam's territory. In , the mass die-off of fish allegedly caused by the release of toxic chemicals by Formosa, sparked a wave of protests on Facebook, which led to street rallies in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to demand more transparency from the government. Blogger Hoang Duc Binh was sentenced to 14 years in prison — the harshest sentence ever delivered to an activist — for his criticism of the Formosa environmental disaster.
The constitution, amended in , affirms the right to freedom of expression, but in practice the CPV has strict control over the media. Legislation, including internet-related decrees, the penal code, the Publishing Law, and the State Secrets Protection Ordinance, can be used to fine and imprison journalists and netizens. The judiciary is not independent, and trials related to free expression are often brief, and apparently predetermined. Police routinely flout due process, arresting bloggers and online activists without a warrant or retaining them in custody beyond the maximum period allowed by law.
A new cybersecurity law was passed in June after this report's coverage period that imposes sweeping restrictions on freedom of expression online. In addition, websites and individual social media pages will be prohibited from posting content critical of the state or causes public disorder. Social media companies will be required to remove content upon request from the authorities within one day.
Companies that collect user data will also be subject to new data localization requirements, which may enable the authorities to infringe on the privacy rights of citizens with greater ease see "Surveillance, Privacy, and Anonymity". In January , amendments to the Penal Code took effect. Under the amended law, articles , , and changed from articles 79, 88, and , respectively of the penal code are commonly used to prosecute and imprison bloggers and online activists for subversion, antistate propaganda, and abusing democratic freedoms.
The new law further holds lawyers criminally responsible for failure to report clients to the authorities for a number of crimes, including those dealt with in articles , and , which effectively requires lawyers to become state agents. Since , a series of regulations have extended controls on traditional media content to the online sphere. Decree 97 ordered blogs to refrain from political or social commentary and barred them from disseminating press articles, literary works, or other publications prohibited by the Press Law.
In , Decree 02 gave authorities power to penalize journalists and bloggers for a series of infractions, including publishing under a pseudonym. Article 5 prohibits broad categories of online activity including "opposing the Socialist Republic of Vietnam," inciting violence, revealing state secrets, and providing false information.
Vietnam experienced a substantial crackdown against online speech during the coverage period; more than 25 bloggers were expelled, convicted of crimes, or imprisoned in alone. In June , the blogger known as Mother Mushroom was sentenced to ten years in prison for her criticism of the government's human rights record and treatment of suspects in police custody.
In November , a court in Ha Tinh sentenced year-old blogger Nguyen Van Hoa to seven years in prison followed by three years of house arrest, in a trial lasting two-and-a-half hours, on charges of "disseminating propaganda against the state. At the end of January , three activists and video bloggers, Vu Quang Thuan, 51, Nguyen Van Dien, 35, and Tran Hoang Phuc, 23, received prison sentences of eight years, six-and-a half years, and four years, respectively, followed by four to five years of house arrest, for "spreading propaganda against the state.
In February , in a trial held behind closed doors, without his lawyers present, blogger Ho Van Hai was sentenced to four years in prison followed by two years house arrest. Also in February , a court in Nghe An sentenced blogger Hoang Duc Binh to 14 years in prison for "abusing his democratic freedom and opposing officials on duty. In May , blogger Bui Hieu Vo was sentenced to four and half years in prison for critical Facebook posts that "distorted the political situation" and "incited public disorder.
Limited information is available about the surveillance technology available to Vietnamese authorities, but the legal framework enables officials to undermine privacy. A new cybersecurity law passed in June after this report's coverage period and will go into effect in January The law also requires users to register for accounts on various social media platforms with their real names, and for tech companies to verify the identity of their users.
You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience. There has also been a decree on public-private- partnerships and the Government has proposed cuts to state guarantees for large PPP projects — a reflection of the Vietnamese economy maturing. In we expect further changes around Securities and foreign ownership and some changes to investment Law. Explore the tabs below to review the key developments you need to be aware of from Read our Vietnam issues a stringent new cybersecurity law.
New law on securities: The Ministry of Finance released a draft new Law on Securities for public consultation. The key changes include: i the foreign ownership level of a public company will be deemed to be unlimited, unless there is a specific ownership cap prescribed in local law or an international treaty to which Vietnam is a member.
Amended law on investment : The Law amending the Law on Investment is proposed to be passed in October Revised Labour Code : The revised Labour Code is expected to be passed in October , and will take effect by the end of The key changes include: i a broader definition of an employee, to capture any individual working under an agreement with the employer; ii an increase in overtime hours, to hours per year; iii the removal of the hour cap of overtime per month; iv an increase in the rate of overtime pay; v a gradual increase in the male and female retirement age, to 62 and 60, respectively, from 1 January ; and vi inspections by the labour authority can be conducted without advance notice.
New draft regulations on four-wheel tech transport : In the competition between traditional taxis and technological transport platforms such as Grab and Uber, the Government is drafting new regulations on four-wheel tech transport. The draft regulations propose to classify technological transport platforms as a transport service. As a result of this, these transport platforms will have to comply with regulations applicable to the taxi business, such as the requirements to register fares, send e-invoices and attach a badge with "TAXI" on the windshield. Contract lawyers from Linklaters Responsibility.
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Southeast Asian Legal Research Guide: Introduction to Vietnam & its Legal System
Search for a business team member by name or use one of the filters. Back Careers. Vietnam: What happened in and significant events in Vietnam Law: Year in Review and Year to Come captures the key legislative and decree changes announced in and indicates the expected changes for the year to come. There are links to further reading, where available. Explore our overview of key developments below. Updates in 13 key areas in and Download now. Significant legal and regulatory events in Renewable energy.
Data protection. Competition and Consumer Law. Foreign investment. Employment benefits. Infrastructure and Projects. Changes to state-owned enterprises SOE privatisation framework : In , the Government made substantial changes to the legal framework for the equitisation and state capital divestment process, in its efforts to accelerate this process and make it easier for foreign and Vietnamese investors to participate.
Under the new regulations on equitisation, the sale of shares to strategic investors must be completed after the initial public offering IPO of the SOE. For the first time, book-building is an IPO sale method. New regulations on state capital divestment provide for a clear priority order of methods for the sale of state's capital in an enterprise being a public auction first, then a competitive offering if the public auction is not successful, and direct agreement is only permitted if the other two methods fail.
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