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Vietnam legislators approve cybersecurity law

[JURIST] The National Assembly of Vietnam [official website] on Tuesday passed [VIETNAMNET report] a cybersecurity law that will affect the operations of global tech companies, such as Facebook and Google.

The law will require global tech companies to store important personal data on Vietnamese users locally, as well as requiring them to maintain offices in Vietnam. The law further requires these companies to report content found offensive by Vietnam authorities within one day of request. The Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Information and Communication [official websites] will ensure adherence to the new law.

Vietnamese officials said the law was necessary to protect national security and maintain social order. Officials also said that the law is in accordance with exceptions provided for national security granted by the World Trade Organization [official website].

Some organizations and governments have voiced concern over the new law. The Asia Internet Coalition (AIC) [official website] stated [press release] the law will "hinder the nation's 4th Industrial Revolution ambitions to achieve GDP and job growth. ... These provisions will result in severe limitations on Vietnam's digital economy, dampening the foreign investment climate and hurting opportunities for local businesses and [enterprises] to flourish inside and beyond Vietnam." Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] referred to the law [AI report] as a "devastating blow" for freedom of expression, finding that the law will censor speech [AI report]. The US and Canada urged [press release] Vietnam legislators to delay voting on the law until it could ensure its alignment with international standards. The US Embassy cautioned the law may result in serious obstacles to Vietnam's cybersecurity, digital innovation, and ability for international trade.

The law will take effect on January 1.

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