New rules on data storage have been introduced in Vietnam, further limiting the room for manoeuvre of social media companies that are already trying to deal with guidelines that were announced last year.
The new rules, issued in a decree on Wednesday, require technology firms to store their users' data locally and set up local offices. Foreign firms will have 12 months to comply from the date on which they receive instructions from the Minister of Public Security. They will have to store the data onshore for a minimum period of 24 months.
According to Reuters the decree says, "Data of all internet users ranging from financial records and biometric data to information on peoples' ethnicity and political views, or any data created by users while surfing the internet must be stored domestically.”
Of course it’s not just about storage; there’s also an access ruling. Authorities will be able to issue data collection requests for the purpose of investigation. They will also be able to ask service providers to remove content that violates the government's guidelines. The decree will take effect on 1 October.
Last year, as we reported at the time, Vietnam, a one-party state, introduced what it calls national guidelines on social media behaviour. The guidelines aimed to moderate speech that promotes violence or hate but they also encouraged people to post positive content about the country.
We’ll no doubt see how operators and social media companies respond fairly soon. Big names like Google and Facebook, are likely to be affected, along with local telecommunications operators.