Vietnam accuses Facebook of violating controversial cybersecurity law

The logo of Facebook Inc. sits on an Apple Inc. iPhone smartphone in this arranged photograph in London, U.K., on Monday, Aug. 20, 2018. Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

Facebook has violated Vietnam‘s new cybersecurity law by allowing users to post anti-government comments on the platform, state media said on Wednesday, days after the controversial legislation took effect in the communist-ruled country.

Despite economic reforms and increasing openness to social change, Vietnam‘s Communist Party retains tight media censorship and does not tolerate dissent.

“Facebook had reportedly not responded to a request to remove fanpages provoking activities against the state,” the official Vietnam News Agency said, citing the Ministry of Information and Communication.

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.”

She did not elaborate.

The ministry said Facebook also allowed personal accounts to upload posts containing “slanderous” content, anti-government sentiment and defamation of individuals and organisations, the agency added.

“This content had been found to seriously violate Vietnam‘s Law on cybersecurity” and government regulations on the management, provision and use of internet services, it quoted the ministry as saying.

Global technology companies and rights groups have earlier said the cybersecurity law, which took effect on Jan. 1 and includes requirements for technology firms to set up local offices and store data locally, could undermine development and stifle innovation in Vietnam.

Company officials have privately expressed concerns that the new law could make it easier for the authorities to seize customer data and expose local employees to arrest.

Facebook had refused to provide information on “fraudulent accounts” to Vietnamese security agencies, the agency said in Wednesday’s report.

The information ministry is also considering taxing Facebook for advertising revenue from the platform.

The report cited a market research company as saying $235 million was spent on advertising on Facebook in Vietnam in 2018, but that Facebook was ignoring its tax obligations there.

In November, Vietnam said it wanted half of social media users on domestic social networks by 2020 and plans to prevent “toxic information” on Facebook and Google.

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Reuters

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.