Vietnam: New Regulations for Online Gaming, Social Networks, and Information Websites
Vietnam recently issued Decree No. 27/2018/ND-CP (“Decree 27”) which will amend and supplement the previous Decree No. 72/2013/ND-CP (“Decree 72”) that was issued in 2013, with regards to social networks, electronic information, and electronic gaming. The Decree 27 focuses on social network sites, information websites, and online gaming service providers. It removes 11 business registration conditions and 13 administrative procedures.
Changes in licensing
Previous licensing procedures and conditions have now been consolidated into Decree 27, with few changes:
- The timeline for certain licensing procedures regarding information websites, social networks, and online gaming has been reduced;
- For online game service providers, a number of business conditions have been amended or removed.
New conditions for information websites and social networks
Social networks and aggregated information websites should have at least one server in Vietnam, allowing the authorities to investigate and verify its stored information when needed.
For information websites, the content has to be stored for at least 90 days from the date of publishing. Furthermore, the data processing logs need to be stored for at least two years from the date when the content was published.
As for social networks, the data retained should include account information, users log in and log out details, IP addresses of users, and data processing logs of published information.
Both, information websites and social networks need to have a system that can store its user’s personal information. It should also be able to authenticate users through SMS or email, in case the user wants to use its services or make changes to their personal information.
The user’s stored personal information should include the name, date of birth, phone number, email address, and details of identification documents such as passport, ID card, or citizen identity card. In case the user is under the age of 14 and does not have any identity documents, the legal guardian of the user will be legally responsible and will have the authority to decide if they want to provide their information indicating consent.
Social network and information websites need to have a system that can advise whenever illegal content is posted. If illegal content is posted, the platforms need to remove them within three hours from when it was discovered or when they receive a takedown request from the authorities.
Any information that is going to be published on an aggregated information website, need to have their sources authenticated and the content verified before and after publishing.
New conditions for online gaming
For electronic gaming service providers, Decree 27 provides much-needed clarity regarding conditions and procedures related to licensing, especially for G1 electronic games, games in which multiple players simultaneously interact with each other and the main server. Games such as multiplayer online role-playing games fall under this category. The major condition introduced is that systems that provide gaming services should be able to store and update user’s personal information. It should also be able to manage the playing time of a user, ensuring that the total playing time of all G1 games by a company, should not be more than 180 minutes per day for a user who is under the age of 18.
Other provisions under Decree 27 focus on registering the provision of G2, G3, and G4 electronic games. G2 games include multiple players, interacting with the servers but not amongst themselves, while in G3 games, the players interact with each other, but not with the server. G4 games are downloaded games and involve no interactions with other players or servers.
It also includes the procedures involved in the issuance of eligibility certificates for providers of electronic games.
Revocation or suspension of license
Government authorities can suspend the license of an information website, social network, or online game service providers, in case:
- A prohibited act has been committed under Article 5.1.(d), (dd) or (e) of Decree 72;
- The licensing conditions and requirements are not followed as per Decree 72 and Decree 27.
In the above cases, the entity will have 10 days to rectify the issue. If they fail to do so, the license will be suspended for three months.
Business licenses can also be revoked in case:
- A prohibited act is committed under Article 5.1.(a), (b) or (c) of Decree 72;
- The business license has already been suspended twice.
Decree 27 is still unclear if the aforementioned conditions and procedures are applicable to offshore entities. The decree is already in effect from 15 April 2018.
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