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Official Gazette

Monday, December 5, 2022

New decree drafted to develop Internet services

Updated: 11:18’ - 28/05/2012

New regulations have been drafted with the aim of boosting the development of Internet services in the country and making management work keep pace with such development, according to the Ministry of Information and Communications, the drafting agency.

Issued in 2008, Government Decree No. 97 on management, provision and use of Internet services and management of Internet information (Decree 97) has paved the way for the Internet service development in the last four years.

However, as the Internet is a vigorously developing environment, a number of new issues have emerged, posing challenges to the government as well as the society. Online games and Internet agents, provision of cross-border services into Vietnam and information safety and security are among these issues.

The new decree, according to its drafters, deals with these issues in accordance with current laws of Vietnam and its economic and social characteristics and level of development, as well as foreign laws and experiences and international practices.

Online games

In Vietnam now, online games have become one of the most used Internet services. Though having positive effects on social development and people, online games also cause public worries, particularly about game addiction and violent content, which badly affect the health and behaviors of players, mostly adolescents, and social security.  

The current regulations on online games (Joint Circular No. 60/2006/TTLT-BVHTT-BBCVT-BCA dated June 1, 2006) only regulate Internet games which involve interaction between players and servers of service providers. In order to provide online games, an enterprise must possess two documents: a decision approving game contents and a document certifying its satisfaction of technical requirements for each game.

Taking into account the emergence of numerous types of video games not only in the Internet but also in other networks, particularly broadband mobile networks, the new decree uses a term with a broader meaning “electronic game in the network” in replacement of “online game”.  Meanwhile, a network can be a mobile or fixed telecommunications network, the Internet or a computer network (WAN and LAN).

Under the draft decree, all enterprises providing electronic games in the network must have a license granted by the Ministry of Information and Communications, instead of obtaining the above two documents. The licensing procedures are simplified compared to Decree 97. 

To prevent negative impacts of electronic games on young players, the draft decree has a new article on classification of electronic games. This article stipulates that all games in the network must be classified by content and script suitable to the ages of players. The method of classification will be guided by the Ministry of Information and Communications. Online game providers must classify electronic games and provide information on the classifications in advertisements and on their websites and in each game.

The draft decree classifies Internet agents into two groups. The first group consists of Internet shops which do not provide the game service and the second group includes those providing the game service. While the first group is managed as telecommunications agents under the telecommunications law, the second group is subject to stricter conditions on their operation, such as minimum area of 50 m2 and at least 1.2 m per computer and certification of local administration.

All Internet shops must not open before 8 a.m. and must close before 22 p.m. Public Internet access points at cafés, restaurants, hotels, airports, etc. must comply with the opening hours of these places.   

Foreign organizations and enterprises may provide electronic games in the network for users in Vietnam through signing a business cooperation or joint venture contract with licensed Vietnamese enterprises. The foreign party’s contributed capital amount is capped at 49% of the charter capital of the joint venture, which must operate under this decree.

Cross-border provision of public information

The draft decree contains a number of provisions on the provision of public information by foreign enterprises into Vietnam. To protect the interests of Vietnamese users, foreign enterprises are required to have measures to protect the privacy of Vietnamese users and notify them of risks and the responsibility to protect their personal information when loading and sharing information on the Internet. They must assure that Vietnamese users have the right to allow or disallow foreign enterprises to use their personal information and to delete all of their information from the databases of foreign enterprises.    

Foreign enterprises must not provide public information that violates the prohibitions in Article 5 of the decree. Such information includes information opposing the Vietnamese State and harming national security and unity; propagating wars of aggression and terrorism and sowing hatred among nations, ethnicities and religions; propagating and inciting violence, obscenity, crime and superstition and badly affecting fine national traditions, etc.

Foreign enterprises must also collaborate with Vietnamese authorities in removing such prohibited information provided by other organizations and individuals.

Particularly, foreign organizations and enterprises providing public information across border and having large numbers of users in Vietnam must set up representative offices or designate lawful representatives in Vietnam to work on their behalf with Vietnamese authorities on related issues. They must commit to collaborating with Vietnamese authorities in filtering prohibited information to assure that users in Vietnam cannot access and use such information. They must also notify the Ministry of Information and Communications of the names, addresses, telephone and fax numbers and email addresses of their lawful representatives for performing their rights and obligations.

In addition, if installing service support equipment in Vietnam, they must notify such installation according to regulations of the Ministry of Information and Communications.

The Ministry of Information and Communications will issue specific criteria for evaluation of websites of foreign organizations and enterprises providing cross-border public information and announce the list of those which have large numbers of users in Vietnam in each period. It will provide procedures for these foreign organizations and enterprises to collaborate with Vietnamese authorities in removing prohibited information. The Ministry of Information and Communications and the Ministry of Public Security will make a list of websites which violate this decree and take measures to block them.

The draft decree further provides that organizations and individuals must take responsibility for information they provide, store and transmit in the network, including also information on direct links. They must assure that such information does not violate the prohibitions and complies with the laws on copyright, intellectual property and other relevant laws.

Besides, owners of internal websites and bloggers are responsible for information provided and stored on their sites, including also public information uploaded by others and information via direct links.

When a user provides public information on a social network site or forum or uses some services for which age declaration is required, such user must register his/her personal information. The Ministry of Information and Communications and the Ministry of Public Security will stipulate the registration of personal information.

The draft decree has a separate article requiring related ministries and agencies to apply measures to protect children and adolescents from harmful contents and applications in the Internet, disseminate Internet laws and regulations for students and guide and encourage them to use the Internet for useful purposes.

Combating cyber crime

Vietnam has recently experienced an increasing number of hackings which are more and more dangerous and frequent. In 2011 alone, the average monthly number of attacks was nearly 200, mostly in the forms of DDOS, virus, spam and spyware. Some attacked websites could not operate for months and many domain names are permanently lost. Therefore, assurance of information safety and national security and prevention and combat of cyber crimes have become a burning issue that greatly impacts the management, provision and use of Internet services. However, regulations on this issue remain limited and scattered, causing difficulties to their enforcement. The new decree puts forward a number of solutions to these problems. Firstly, it clearly defines the responsibilities of the Ministry of Information and Communications and the Ministry of Public Security. The Ministry of Information and Communications will take charge of professional and technical issues in controlling and protecting information and the information system in the transmission, storage and processing of information in the Internet. The Ministry of Public Security is responsible for preventing, detecting and combating the abuse of the Internet to infringe upon the national security, social order and safety and citizens’ interests, preventing disclosure of state secrets through the Internet and investigating and prosecuting cyber crime and terrorism.

Secondly, the draft decree requires that all Internet service providers and users must be clearly aware of safety assurance activities, comply with the direction of the Ministry of Information and Communications to respond to Internet incidents and directly apply or coordinate in applying measures to assure information safety and national security in the network.

Thirdly, it provides the management of the information safety assessment service in order to help reduce risks and improve the capability to prevent and deal with incidents for organizations.

Lastly, it clearly determines the responsibility of organizations and individuals for assuring information safety, focusing on the prevention and handling of harmful activities.-

“As of April 2012, Vietnam has 102 Internet enterprises, with 60 having officially provided services. A market has come into existence with such major players as VNPT, Viettel and FPT-Telecom. The Internet network has extensively developed. Internet information contents and applications have boomed, with more than 850 general websites and 130 social network sites licensed, and many strong domestic networks like Zingme, Yume and Tam Tay. There are some 36,000 Internet agents operating nationwide. Vietnam is ranked among 20 countries with the highest numbers of Internet users in the world.”

(Source: Ministry of Information and Communications)

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