Wednesday, 24 Jul 2019
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Vietnam slams Facebook for violations of cybersecurity law

Updated at Thursday, 10 Jan 2019, 07:56
The Hanoitimes - The Vietnamese information ministry is considering preventing cash from flowing into “hatred advertising” on the social media site and withholding taxes to deal with violations.
Vietnam's Vietnamese Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) is considering necessary technical measures if Facebook makes no cooperative moves in tackling contents that violate Vietnam’s laws on its social network. 
 
Illustrative photo
Illustrative photo

The Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information (ABEI) under the ministry said at a press conference in Hanoi on January 8 that the ministry is considering preventing cash from flowing into “hatred advertising” on the social media site and withholding taxes to deal with violations. 

The MIC is also requiring Facebook to sign additional terms committing to follow Vietnamese laws in agreements on setting up servers in Vietnam signed with domestic network providers, local media reported. 

The related agencies include the General Department of Taxation and the State Bank of Vietnam. 

Facebook’s violations 

Facebook breaks rules on managing content, advertising, and tax, the Vietnamese agency said. 

The world’s giant social network was accused of failing to take down “slanderous content”, permitting “hatred and forbidden advertising” on the social media site, and violating regulations on taxation. 

The body said Facebook allowed Vietnamese users to post “slanderous content, anti-government sentiment and libel and defamation of individuals, organizations and state agencies” in violation of the country’s Law on Cyber Security, which took effect on January 1, as well as other legislations. 

Part of Vietnam’s Law on Cyber Security regulates that foreign tech groups must store data locally and open an office in the country.

Facebook’s Transparency Report shows the number of items of restricted illegal content skyrocketed in the second half of last year over the previous six months. It said that included items related to illegal sales of wildlife and other products, cases of impersonation of a user to spread false information and alleged defamation of some products and people.

According to the ABEI, the social media site had delayed removing content that Facebook said did not violate the site’s community standards, and refused to provide information on “fraudulent accounts” to state security authorities. 

In response to the allegations, Facebook said in a statement: “We have a clear process for governments to report illegal content to us, and we review all those requests against our terms of service and local law.” It added that “We are transparent about the content restrictions we make in accordance with local law in our Transparency Report.”

However, Facebook did not comment on the Vietnamese watchdog’s allegations that it had violated Vietnamese law on advertising or tax liabilities. 

Big profits
According to market research company ANTS, expenses for online advertising in Vietnam recorded US$550 million in 2018, including 42% paid for Facebook. Google and Facebook make up 66.7% of Vietnam’s online advertising market share and pay no tax. 
In Vietnam, one of Asia’s fast-growing economies, Facebook is the second most-used site after Google, and serves as a conduit for open political discussion, including criticism of the party and state.
Vietnam ranks the world’ 7th largest Facebook community with 60 million users as of October 2018, according to global survey organization Statista.
Statistics by the ABEI showed that Facebook is partnering with eight domestic network providers to set up 900 servers in Vietnam.

The number of Facebook users in Vietnam. Photo: Statista
Vietnam is among countries with the largest number of Facebook users. Photo: Statista
Linh Pham
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