Vietnam stands by its cybersecurity law amid US criticism

By Trong Giap   July 20, 2018 | 08:28 am PT
Vietnam's foreign ministry reasserted that the cybersecurity law is designed to protect online rights, after U.S. lawmakers voiced criticism.
A user looking at a Facebook page in Hanoi, Vietnam. Photo by Reuters/Kham

A user looking at a Facebook page in Hanoi, Vietnam. Photo by Reuters/Kham

“The ratification of the cybersecurity law is aimed at creating a safe and healthy cyberspace, protecting the legitimate rights and interests of organizations and individuals online, and ensuring national security as well as social order and safety," the ministry's spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang said in a statement.

Hang stressed that the law, which was ratified last month, was passed with high approval rate after going through multiple rounds of discussion and open, transparent consultations involving lawmakers, experts, businesses and the general public.

Seventeen U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday urged the CEOs of tech giants Facebook and Google to resist changes stipulated by Vietnam's new cybersecurity law in the name of "promoting openness and connectivity."

In a letter to the two CEOs, the lawmakers said the issue would be raised diplomatically and at the highest levels if the Vietnamese government coerces the two companies to "aid and abet censorship."

In response, Hang reaffirmed Vietnam's consistent policy to provide favorable conditions for foreign businesses and investors to operate in Vietnam.

“As in any other country, the activities of foreign businesses and investors should comply with the laws of the host country,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Additionally, she said freedom of speech is a right enshrined in Vietnam's Constitution and is being practiced.

“The state of Vietnam always respects and facilitates the rights of its citizens to exercise freedom and democracy but is resolutely against the abuse of those rights to commit illegal activities,” Hang added.

Vietnam's cybersecurity law was approved by a majority vote in the country's top legislative body, the National Assembly, on June 12 after 86 percent of MPs present voted in favor.

The new law, which will take effect in 2019, bans internet users from organizing, encouraging or training other people for anti-state purposes.
They are not allowed to distort history, negate the nation’s revolutionary achievements, undermine national solidarity, offend religions and discriminate on the basis of gender and race.

The law also requires foreign businesses to open representative offices in Vietnam and store their Vietnamese users' data in Vietnamese territory.

Businesses will have 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.

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