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Legal research: Analysis of Vietnam’s Internet Freedom Situation Following the Adoption of the 2018 Cybersecurity Law

Legal research: Analysis of Vietnam’s Internet Freedom Situation Following the Adoption of the 2018 Cybersecurity Law

The "Analysis of Vietnam’s Internet Freedom Situation Following the Adoption of the 2018 Cybersecurity Law" report was jointly conducted by Legal Initiatives for Vietnam and Boat People SOS in late 2020 and was released on January 12, 2021.

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:

This research is a follow-up on a comprehensive research of Vietnam’s Internet regulations conducted by Boat People SOS in 2018 with a grant from International Center for Non-Profit Law (ICNL). It provides the updated information on Vietnam's new Internet regulations and the central and local governments’ practices of implementing the regulations.

The research’s findings show that after passing the controversial Cybersecurity  Law in June 2018, the Vietnamese government has failed to issue a decree to provide guidance of how to implement the law, a routine that usually is conducted by the executive branch shortly after the passage of a piece of legislation at the National Assembly. Due to the government’s arbitrary use of national secrets regulations, it is uncertain whether or not there is already a decree.

Another major finding is that the government has been trying to indirectly provide guidance of implementation of the Cybersecurity Law by issuing decrees that are, on the surface, meant to be detailing other laws. This can be interpreted as a way of avoiding domestic and international criticism since the Cybersecurity Law and its initial drafted decree have received widespread condemnation.

In the meantime, both the central and local governments are not waiting for the detailed guidance of the Cybersecurity Law to start implementing what the law  says because the Cybersecurity Law is, in fact, only a part of many laws and regulations that govern online expression. By conducting administrative, criminal and economic measures, the government has been actively forcing citizens and technology companies (mainly foreign enterprises) to accept a significantly more  repressive Internet environment and a much narrower range of doing businesses  in Vietnam.