A new law coming into effect in June next year will outlaw the act of posting personal information, including photos, of children in Vietnam online without the consent of the kids and their parents.
The new Children’s Law, which was passed by the lawmaking National Assembly in April and will take effect on June 1, 2017, is an upgraded version of the current Law on Protection, Care, and Education of Children.
The new law lists 15 strictly prohibited acts, including the publication or disclosure of information on the personal life and secrets of children over seven years of age without their consent and their parents’ or guardians’.
According to lawyer Nguyen Thanh Cong, member of the Ho Chi Minh City Bar Association, those who violate the provisions, including parents themselves, will be punished in accordance with the Civil Code, which means they would have to compensate for any proven damage caused by the revelation of such information.
Legal experts in the country, however, asserted that the law’s provisions are still too general to be implemented in practice, for vague terms such as “the rights of children to privacy of personal life” is still left undefined.
According to these experts, more specific guidelines would need to be issued before the law could make any major impact on legal cases concerning children.
Lawyer Cong added that at present the law is only used as a framework for people to adjust their actions accordingly, without any concrete punishment for their violation.
“At the moment, the Children’s Law doesn’t state clearly any penalty for violators,” Cong said. “I think lawmakers should work on drafting guidelines for the law before it comes into effect next year.”
In the meantime, parents in Vietnam are learning the hard way not to publish their children’s photos on the Internet.
H., a mother in District 3, Ho Chi Minh City, recalled how she had made her 13-year-old daughter vulnerable to online sexual predators after posting pictures of the girl wearing a bikini on Facebook, following a family outing at the beach.
“After a while, my younger brother phoned and told me to take the photos off the site immediately,” H. recounted. “When I asked him why, he said he had come across her photos on a porn site with her real name, age, school, and even the price for a night with her.”
H. said she was shocked and regretful for having inadvertently harmed her daughter.
According to lawyer Nguyen Duc Chanh, member of the Ho Chi Minh City Bar Association, the act of posting personal information online for the public to view is dangerous, as predators can use it to easily follow the child for assault or kidnapping.