LIV co-founder and co-director, Trinh Huu Long, was cited in Southeast Asia Globe’s article titled, “Vietnamese cybersecurity law reveals Hanoi’s ‘obsession with control,’ written by Govi Snell. This feature, which was published on 23 November 2022, discusses the legal avenues the Vietnamese government uses to monitor online content in the country and its effects on Vietnamese cyberspace as a whole.
Snell’s article mainly focuses on the ramifications of Decree 53, a set of guidelines for the proper implementation of the 2018 Cybersecurity Law. This decree, which went into effect on 1 October 2022, compels tech companies in Vietnam to store all user information – including financial records, biometric data, ethnicity and political views – for a minimum of two years. Decree 53 also holds that if the Vietnamese government finds a user who has violated their guidelines on internet conduct, the state has the right to issue data collection requests from these companies which store the aforementioned user’s data.
Regarding Decree 53 and the actions of the Vietnamese government, Long says that the state has “lost control” over the information being spread through foreign social media platforms, such as Facebook or Twitter.
He adds, “Now [the Vietnamese government], they are gaining it back by forcing these foreign actors to comply with local laws almost like domestic ones. Without having a free platform to voice their opinions, citizens are certainly more vulnerable.”
Since the early 2000s, the internet and the use of social media has been on the rise in Vietnam. The popularity of the internet in the country led to the development of an online space which was initially free from government control and censorship. With the advent of Decree 53, Vietnamese cyberspace – one of the last bastions of free speech and expression in the country – is slowly becoming more and more restricted due to government surveillance and the removal of any sensitive content that they deem to be a threat to national safety and security.