The draft decree on social media management aims to protect children better. It provides a legal framework for live streaming and revenue-generating services provided on foreign and domestic social networks. Sometimes providers need to obtain a licence or confirmation.
The rapid development of the internet has brought about issues that need to be regulated. Currently, the regulations on management, provision, and use of Internet services and information on the network are stipulated in Decree 72/2013/ND-CP as amended by Decree 27/2018/ND-CP of the Government (Decree 72). However, while enforcing this decree, the Government realised it had various shortcomings which needed to be addressed. This is done in an amendment decree as published for comments in July 2021 (Draft Decree)
This legal update will set out several remarkable changes under the Draft Decree, which is likely to be adopted in September 2021.
The Draft Decree contains several essential concepts and definitions defined for the first time in a legal document, such as user account, content channel, fan page, live stream, multi-service social network, fake news, provision of cross-border information, etc.
It also supplements the contents related to the protection of children in the online environment. Accordingly, some relevant definitions are introduced in the Draft Decree, such as acts of abusing children in the network environment and harmful information to children in the online environment.
Besides, the Draft Decree also clarifies some definitions such as aggregated information, website, social network, new generic top-level domain name (New gTLD), domain name registration and maintenance service.
2. Registration and Management of Social Networks
Decree 72 regulates the establishment and registration of social networks by enterprises or organisations incorporated under the law of Vietnam. Accordingly, such enterprises and organisations can only provide social network services if they have obtained the required licence.
Under the Draft Decree, social networks will be registered and managed as follows:
a. For social networks provided by foreign entities across borders into Vietnam, the management of such networks shall comply with the regulations on providing information across borders as mentioned in Section 4 below.
b. For social networks provided by enterprises or organisations incorporated under the law of Vietnam, the registration and management of domestic social networks shall be conducted based on the number of users. To provide social network services, social networks of enterprises or organisations need to:
- Obtain a social network service (SNS) Licence if they have 10,000 or more regular unique visitors (UV) per month; and
- Notify the competent authority and obtain a confirmation if they have less than 10,000 regular UV per month.
In addition, the Draft Decree also regulates the management of user accounts, fan pages and channels on social networks, especially the ones with many followers. Accordingly, any account, fan page, or channel with 10,000 or more followers must notify the Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) about their contact information. Besides, all account users and owners of fan pages or channels on social networks are responsible for managing the contents posted on their accounts, fan pages or channels, including users' comments. They also must prevent and, on request by users or the competent authorities, remove information that violates the law, affects the lawful rights and interests of other organisations and individuals, or affects children. Upon request violating information must be removed within 3 hours.
3. Live Streaming and Revenue-Generating Services
Live streaming and revenue-generating services are provided on foreign and domestic social networks without sufficient and efficient management mechanisms. The Draft Decree intends to provide a legal framework with more specific regulations to govern the provision of these services.
In particular, the Draft Decree stipulates that only social networks granted an SNS Licence by MIC can provide live streaming and revenue-generating services. As such, a domestic social network with a low number of UV needs an SNS Licence if it offers live streaming or revenue-generating services.
Moreover, the Draft Decree also stipulates that if user accounts, fan pages, or channels with less than 10,000 followers would like to use live streaming services or participate in revenue-generating services in any form, they must share their contact information with MIC.
4. Cross-Border Information Services
Decree 72 stipulates that foreign entities providing information across borders into Vietnam must comply with the laws of Vietnam. The Draft Decree supplements the regulations on providing information across borders with a more effective mechanism to manage cross-border information provision activities. Under the Draft Decree, cross-border information providers who rent digital information storage space in Vietnam or who have at least 100,000 UV per month need to comply with the following:
- notify their contact information and report to MIC;
- control, prevent, and remove information posted that violates the law; and
- coordinate with competent authorities to handle complaints and violations in cross-border information provision activities.
5. Restrictions on Use of General Information Websites and Social Networks
With the development of the internet, organisations and individuals have abused general information websites and social networks to carry out press activities, such as spreading fake news or harmful information. To improve this, the Draft Decree contains several regulations on managing information content on domestic general information websites and social networks. Accordingly, general information websites and social networks must have appropriate procedures and mechanisms to manage and control information, censor content, protect information confidentiality, handle complaints and violations on request by users or competent authorities.
Furthermore, under the Draft Decree, the maximum licence term to establish a general information website or an SNS Licence shall be 5 years and renewable only once for no more than 2 years. It used to be 10 years with the possibility to renew twice for 2 years.
6. Protection of Children in Online Environment
The Draft Decree contains several regulations on the responsibility to protect children on telecommunications networks and the internet. Accordingly, social networks with more than 1,000,000 UV in Vietnam must:
a. display warnings of inappropriate contents for children;
b. have the feature to report harmful content to children or acts of child abuse happen on their platforms;
c. publish the procedures to manage reports;
d. share data on reports and handling results quarterly with MIC;
e. block and filter contents harmful to children and accounts/users who commit acts of child abuse on their platforms;
f. apply age declaration in case of registration of user accounts; and
g. supervise the activities of users being children.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.