Vietnam’s draconian cybersecurity bill comes into effect

Vietnam’s new cybersecurity law requires Internet companies to remove content the government regards as ‘toxic’. (AFP)
Updated 01 January 2019

Vietnam’s draconian cybersecurity bill comes into effect

  • The new cybersecurity law has received sharp criticism from the US, the EU and Internet freedom advocates
  • The law requires Internet companies to remove content the government regards as ‘toxic’

HANOI: A law requiring Internet companies in Vietnam to remove content communist authorities deem to be against the state came into effect Tuesday, in a move critics called “a totalitarian model of information control.”
The new cybersecurity law has received sharp criticism from the US, the EU and Internet freedom advocates who say it mimics China’s repressive censorship of the Internet.
The law requires Internet companies to remove content the government regards as “toxic.”
Tech giants such as Facebook and Google will also have to hand over user data if asked by the government, and open representative offices in Vietnam.
The communist country’s powerful Ministry of Public Security (MPS) published a draft decree on how the law may be implemented in November, giving companies which offer Internet service in Vietnam up to 12 months to comply.
MPS has also said the bill was aimed at staving off cyber-attacks — and weeding out “hostile and reactionary forces” using the Internet to stir up violence and dissent, according to a transcript of a question-and-answer session with lawmakers in October.
In response to the law, which was approved by Vietnam’s rubber-stamp parliament last June, Facebook said they are committed to protecting the rights of its users and enabling people to express themselves freely and safely.
“We will remove content that violates (Facebook’s) standards when we are made aware of it,” Facebook said in an emailed statement to AFP, adding that the social media giant has a clear process to manage requests from governments around the world.
Hanoi has said Google is taking steps to open up an office in Vietnam to comply with the new law.
In response to AFP’s request for comment, the Internet giant said it would not comment at this stage.
The law also bans Internet users in Vietnam from spreading information deemed to be anti-state, anti-government or use the Internet to distort history and “post false information that could cause confusion and damage to socio-economic activities.”
Critics say online freedom is shrinking under a hardline administration that has been in charge since 2016.
Dozens of activists have been jailed at a pace not seen in years.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on the communist authorities to revise the law and postpone its implementation.
“This law is designed to further enable the Ministry of Public Security’s pervasive surveillance to spot critics, and to deepen the Communist Party’s monopoly on power,” Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of HRW said.
The law comes into force a week after Vietnam’s Association of Journalists announced a new code of conduct on the use of social media by its members, forbidding reporters to post news, picture and comments that “run counter to” the state.
Daniel Bastard of Reporters Without Borders decried the new requirements for journalists and the cybersecurity law, calling it “a totalitarian model of information control.”
Vietnam wants to build a reputation as a Southeast Asian hub for fintech.
Critics warn the new Internet law — particularly the data-sharing element — will make start-ups think twice about relocating to the country.


Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank awards media duties to Carat

Updated 28 October 2020

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank awards media duties to Carat

  • Carat’s approach will both complement our in-house digital marketing

DUBAI: Carat MENA has been awarded the offline media responsibilities for Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB), a leading regional Islamic financial services group that serves more than a million customers through a distribution network in the UAE, Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Sudan and the UK.

The agency’s strength in strategic planning across media touchpoints and a data-driven, consumer-centric mindset provided by M1, Dentsu’s proprietary research tool, were said to be critical factors in the decision to select it for the role.

“This is a pivotal time for ADIB as we accelerate our evolution in becoming a market-leading digital bank by challenging old ways of doing things and pioneering the new,” said Inas Abou Salem, the bank’s global head of marketing, communications and branding.

“Carat’s approach will both complement our in-house digital marketing, while driving our offline media with the data-driven approach and strategic vision needed to drive consistent value for our customers.”

Ramzy Abouchacra, the CEO of Carat MENA, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with ADIB, integrating the best of our agency capabilities to support their digital transformation.

“Their ambition to innovate banking in the Middle East is exciting and clearly aligned with our ambition to redefine the role that media plays in driving transformative growth.”