Vietnam accuses Facebook of violating new cybersecurity law

According to a Business Times report, the Vietnamese government has accused Facebook of violating its new cybersecurity law by allowing users to share anti-government posts on Facebook, the first reprimand since the legislation took effect on Jan 1.

The legislation, which was approved by lawmakers in June last year, requires tech companies to transfer user data to the government when requested by authorities.

The concern was raised at a press conference held by the MIC’s Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic information (ABEI) in Hanoi on Tuesday.

New cybersecurity law

According to the ABEI, the social media company had violated Vietnamese cybersecurity laws in three main areas: managing content, tax liability, and advertising.

“Facebook had reportedly not responded to a request to remove fan pages provoking activities against the state,” the ABEI said in a statement.
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The ministry said that Facebook failed to remove posts that contained slanderous comments, anti-government opinions, and libel and defamation of individuals, organisations and state agencies.

The ministry sent several letters and email requesting its removal, but Facebook delayed and even failed to remove the content, claiming that it did not violate community standards.

Facebook also refused to provide any information on fraudulent accounts to security agencies.

The Vietnamese government also accused Facebook of allowing accounts to sell and advertise illegal products such as fake money, fake products, weapons, and firecrackers.

Vietnam said the new cybersecurity law is designed to protect and improve cybersecurity measures in the country. However, critics claim that the new legislation, which is quite similar to China’s draconian internet bill, is aimed at ‘silencing dissent’.

In a statement, a Facebook spokeswoman said, “We have a clear process for governments to report illegal content to us, and we review all these requests against our terms of service and local law.”

Facebook is one of the most popular networks in Vietnam with 53m users, despite the countries recent censure attempts.

A ban could provoke a “revolution”

Web security company High-Tech Bridge’s CEO Ilia Kolochenko commented on the issue, by saying:

“The problem of many emerging cyber laws is that they may inadvertently, or even purposefully, impact the freedom of speech. Moreover, in developing countries, proper enforcement of such laws will be highly complicated, impractical and expensive both for social networks and the government.

Worse, there is no plausible sanction against a company such as Facebook for violation of the law – a ban will be expensive and ineffective, moreover, it will likely provoke the reverse effect if not cause a revolution in the country.”

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