It is undeniable that the Internet and social networks have benefited people’s life. However, each individual, country, and nation-state has to face huge and complicated challenges caused by the Internet and social networks, especially the information they disseminate as it is hard to verify and not limited by space.

Therefore, hostile forces and evil elements take full advantage of the Internet and social networks to violate national electronic boundary sovereignty to spread disinformation to achieve vile targets ranging from fraud to threatening to post on the Internet private information that harms people’s family lives. In fact, some people have committed or attempted suicide when their privacy was revealed on the Internet.

Photo for illustration. Source:

So far, many countries considered the Internet and social networks a means of communication between governments and people to promote people’s monitoring role. The State of Vietnam is also following this trend and has made efforts to develop an e-Government, including sensitive fields of customs service to daily demands of its citizens such as verifying their identity and inhabitant registration. However, the Internet and social networks has also been used as a key means of communications by anti-government forces to gather and mobilize people to conduct behaviors from “non-violent civil disobedience” to chaos and change of regime; calling for foreign intervention to “protect civilians,” or “protect human rights” from government repression. That plot was used by anti-government forces in the Middle East and North Africa in the so-called “Jasmine Revolution” (2010 – 2011).

Recent disturbances, violation of national security, destruction of the State’s property and obstructing activities of civil servants  in Binh Thuan province and Ho Chi Minh City, as a ruse for protesting against the Draft Law on Special Economic Zone, prove that evil domestic and international political forces used the Internet and social networks to instruct scoundrels, drug-abusers and the jobless to spread disinformation about the Draft Law and to seduce people to take the path against the people’s government.

Thus, there is a need to establish a strong legal measure on the usage of the Internet and social networks to protect national security and social order and safety in cyberspace. That is why the Law on Cyber Security was passed by the National Assembly with such high support.

However, on the Internet and social networks, some people who did not understand the law correctly and some evil elements have deliberately distorted the law in an attempt to reject it with vague arguments or bad-will interpretations. For instance, they argued that the Law on Cyber Security “violates privacy”, “violates freedom of speech”, or “robs the right to use the Internet of the people”. While causing disturbances and intrusions of national security, the evil elements raised banners asking for the removal of the Law on Cyber Security. This incident won “support” from many Western news agencies by their own reports and “online seminars” to spread distorted information to reject the law. Regarding international relations, they held that the Law on Cyber Security violates Vietnam’s commitments with the World Trade Organization and the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). And, some even worried that big networks such as Google and Facebook will “leave Vietnam.” Does the Law on Cyber Security violate human or citizens’ rights, affect international relations or cause a slowdown in Vietnam’s development?

The Law on Cyber Security includes 7 chapters and 43 articles. The principles of cyber security law are: (1) Abiding by the Constitution and law; ensuring legal rights and interests of organizations and individuals, (2) Under the leadership of the Communist Party of Vietnam and the unified governance of the State (Article 4 of the Law).

The law only regulates sanctions on the usage of the cyberspace to conduct offenses against the State and the rights and interests of organizations and individuals (Article 8).

Is there any truth in the allegations that Vietnam’s Law on Cyber Security violates agreements in WTO and CPTPP or that Google and Facebook will leave Vietnam due to such laws? The answer is certainly “No”.

According to the Proposal of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee to the National Assembly, the basic agreements within WTO (GATT and GATS), of which Vietnam is a member, and the CPTPP which Vietnam has signed, all include security exceptions. Accordingly, Vietnam is entitled to request domestic and international businesses that provide services via telecommunication networks, the Internet, or cyberspace in Vietnam to store important database of the users in Vietnam and install servers in the country. It is reported that 18 WTO members, including the US, Canada, Australia, Germany and France, apply a compulsory regulation that Internet-based businesses must store data in their countries.

What will happen to digital giants, such as Google and Facebook which are operating in Vietnam? Vietnam is a big market. According to a recent survey, Vietnam has about 58 million internet users. Vietnam is also among the top 10 countries of Internet users in the world. Advertising and transaction services via these companies generate big income for these companies.

According to the National Assembly’s Standing Committee, Google and Facebook are storing information of Vietnamese organizations and individuals in Hong Kong and Singapore. When the Vietnamese Law on Cyber Security takes effect, these businesses server’s installation in Vietnam would be easily achieved.

In terms of national interests, including international relations, the Law on Cyber Security not only better protects national independence and sovereignty in electronic space but also facilitates national interests. This is the most important thing for each state as the Internet and social networks are developing dramatically. If it costs an individual or a business a little bit more to implement the law, it is acceptable because it helps protect lasting interests of the country and the safety of each individual, family and the society as a whole.

Moreover, the law does not limit rights and interests of individuals as it only applies to criminal activities via the Internet (Article 8). The Law on Cyber Security only authorizes relevant agencies to investigate and identify bad information sources when necessary. However, for those entities who make use of the Internet and social networks to conduct anti-state activities or jeopardize the safety of citizens, the law is a strict sanction.

In short, to everyone, the Law on Cyber Security does not “violate privacy,” “violate freedom of expression,” or “rob the right to use the Internet of the people” as some evil elements maintain, who are trying to distort it and who are mobilizing for its rejection.

Written by Bac Ha

Translated by Nam Long