The requirement is mentioned in the Cyber Security Law, but experts point out that the platforms’ compliance with the law is inconsistent, so they have called on management agencies to set stricter regulations.

The requirements are included in the decree that will replace Decree 72 on managing, providing and using internet services that the Ministry of Information and Communications is drafting. 

Many cross-border platforms are operating in Vietnam, such as Facebook, Google, Netflix and Telegram, but none of them has representative offices in Vietnam. Facebook and Google are managing services provided to Vietnam from their offices in Singapore. The absence of their representatives in Vietnam make it difficult for state agencies to control their operations and solve problems.

VieON’s CEO Huynh Long Thuy said the platform has mentioned the issue as domestic service providers feel there is discriminatory treatment between domestic and cross-border platforms. 

To show a film in Vietnam, domestic companies have to satisfy standards related to children’s images, sensitive scenes, drug trafficking, tobacco and maritime sovereignty, and risk heavy penalties if violating regulations. Meanwhile, foreign service providers are not covered by any regulations, and in case of violations, they just need to remove the content from the platforms.

Under the law, service providers must set servers in Vietnam, apply for licenses, and pay tax.

Regarding taxation, cross-border platforms collect fees from subscribers in Vietnam, but still cannot be taxed directly because they don’t have offices in the country.

Decree 13 on protecting personal data also stipulates that data of Vietnamese users must be kept in Vietnam. However, in reality, the data of Vietnamese users are transferred abroad.

Vu Ngoc Son, CTO of NCS, a Vietnamese cybersecurity firm, said cross-border platforms operate and make profits in Vietnam, and have to implement requirements on users’ data protection, fulfill tax obligations, and cooperate with state management agencies to handle violations. The presence of representative offices of foreign platforms is necessary to ensure the strict observance of these obligations.

Le Hoang Trong, president of Vinh Thinh Technological Solutions, complained that it takes a lot of time to handle users’ complaints, especially ones on copyright, because foreign platforms don’t have representatives in Vietnam.

Le My