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Facebook, Google must open offices, store user data in Vietnam: ministry

Thursday, August 15, 2019, 22:03 GMT+7
Facebook, Google must open offices, store user data in Vietnam: ministry
Small toy figures are seen in front of the Facebook logo in this illustration picture, April 8, 2019. Photo: Reuters

Facebook and Google have to comply with Vietnamese regulations by handling and blocking unlawful content and advertisements, opening representative offices, and storing personal data in Vietnam, the Ministry of Information and Communications said in a recent report to the Standing Committee of the law-making National Assembly.

The ministry said that law-breaking online content mostly comes from websites that have international domain names and their servers placed overseas, and is provided across the border, causing difficulty for management.

It is hard to deal with violations of this type as mangement agencies are to struggle to locate the violators, the ministry added.

Foreign companies that provide cross-border services have yet to cooperate with the Vietnamese government to block or take down illegal content and provide the information of those individuals uploading such content, according to the report.

Facebook and Google prefer their community standards to Vietnamese regulations when reviewing violations so state agencies have faced challenges in asking them to handle Pages, accounts, channels, and videos that break the local law.

The two tech giants have, in many instances, rejected requests to remove posts, saying they did not breach their community policy, the ministry said.

The ministry has sped up their consultation with Facebook and Google to demand their cooperation in blocking and erasing information that is untrue and goes against the policy of the Vietnamse Party, state, as well as the management solutions of the government, it said.

The tech companies have named contacts and set up cooperative mechanisms exclusively for Vietnam in order to discuss unsettled issues.

Vietnam will focus on such areas as content violations, including advertisements, economic development and tax, and measures to require Facebook and Google to abide by the Vietnamese law regarding the blockage of content and advertisements that breach local regulations, opening representative offices, and storing personal data in Vietnam, pursuant to the cybersecurity law.

The 43-article cybersecurity law came into effect on January 1, regulating all activities that “protect national security and ensure public safety and order on the Internet.”

The prime minister has directed relevant bodies to work out measures to staunch the flow of money from unlawful transactions carried out between Vietnamese users and cross-border service providers like Facebook and Google, the ministry said, adding that this is meant to gradually bar fake news from the social networking site and YouTube.

Google has so far blocked over 7,000 videos, taken down 19 channels broadcasting ‘toxic content’ on YouTube, and removed 58 out of 63 games infringing Vietnamese laws from Google Play, the ministry said.

Facebook has deleted 208 out of 211 fake accounts, 2,444 links offering illicit products and services, over 200 links to articles subverting the Vietnamese Party and state, and 215 Pages advertising gambling games.

Apple has taken down nine out of 15 games breaching the Vietnamese law from App Store.

Vietnam has a population of 96 million people, according to the 2019 census.

The country had 58 million Facebook users, ranking seventh globally, a report said in 2018.

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