New cybersecurity law impedes no international pact: Vietnam

By Viet Anh   June 15, 2018 | 01:24 am PT
New cybersecurity law impedes no international pact: Vietnam
Members of Vietnam's National Assembly attend a session voting to approve a cyber security law in Hanoi on June 12, 2018. Photo by Vietnam News Agency
Google and Facebook will have to store data of local users in Vietnam, and provide it to the government upon request.

Vietnam has asserted that its new cybersecurity law complies with the country’s Constitution, doesn’t impede international agreements and is needed to protect national security and preserve order in Vietnam’s cyberspace.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang was responding to question on whether the new law would affect “freedom” in Vietnam.

She said that cybersecurity attacks had been developing rapidly in recent years, threatening national stability, the economy and political landscape.

Vietnam had lacked a legal framework to bolster its cybersecurity defense, she said.

“Therefore, it is vital to have laws on cybersecurity now,” Hang told the press on Thursday afternoon.

The new law, passed by Vietnam’s National Assembly just a few days ago, would require digital businesses like Facebook and Google to store the data of Vietnamese users in Vietnam.

423 members of parliament, 86 percent of those present, voted in favor of the law. 15 MPs voted against it and 28 abstained.

The law requires businesses to provide users’ data to the Ministry of Public Security upon receipt of requests in writing, in cases where any infringement of the cybersecurity law is being investigated.

Foreign businesses will also have to open a representative office in Vietnam and the government will decide the duration for which such businesses have to store users’ data on Vietnamese territory.

The law had raised concerns among some MPs and experts that Vietnam might end up violating its commitments as a member of the World Trade Organization, and as a signatory to the E.U.-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

However, Vo Trong Viet, chairman of the National Security and Defense Committee, argued that exceptions concerning cybersecurity were allowed in WTO agreements, specifically the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), as well as in the CPTPP.

It was necessary that Vietnam applies these exceptions in order to protect the benefits of its people and ensure national security, he said.

The new cybersecurity law will take effect in 2019.

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