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Draft decree requires social media networks to apply for license in Vietnam

Tuesday, May 05, 2020, 22:42 GMT+7
Draft decree requires social media networks to apply for license in Vietnam
A screenshot of Lotus, a Vietnamese social media network. Photo: Duc Khiem / Tuoi Tre

Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) has proposed a draft decree that requires social media networks with one million or more monthly active users to apply for a license in order to operate in the Southeast Asian country.

The regulation is part of a tentative decree on the management, provision, and use of Internet services and information, on which the MIC is collecting feedback.

If the decree is approved, large-scale social media platforms, including those originating in foreign countries such as Facebook and YouTube, will need a license issued by the MIC to operate in Vietnam.

Under Article 23 of the draft decree, a social media network is classified as large-scale one if it has one million or more monthly active users.

Other platforms with less than one million active users a month are only required to submit a document informing competent authorities of their operations and receive formal approval in return.

The MIC will install a tool to track the number of active users of each social media site and will inform the operators when they need to apply for a license after crossing the million-user threshold.

The decree also highlighted that only licensed social media networks would be allowed to charge users for their service in any form or provide livestream services.

The login screen of GAPO, a Vietnamese social media network. Photo: Duc Khiem / Tuoi Tre

The login screen of GAPO, a Vietnamese social media network. Photo: Duc Khiem / Tuoi Tre

Fair competition

According to Nguyen The Tan, general director of Vietnamese technology firm VCCorp, foreign technology businesses have not been required to strictly follow Vietnamese regulations, unlike local digital firms, which creates an unfair playing ground when it comes to running a social network.

Expressing a similar opinion, the director of a Hanoi-based digital company believed that domestic businesses have been facing a lot of challenges posed by current regulations on the establishment and management of social media networks.

The decree, once taking effect, will become a legal framework that applies to both local and foreign social media networks, creating fair competition, he added.

Vo Thanh Hai, director of Viettel Media, a technology company under military-run Viettel telecoms group, also showed support for the draft decree, stating that it would help clear the disadvantages local companies have been facing.

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