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Vietnam is well known for its strict censorship of traditional media. But the explosion of new technology and the rapid expansion of internet options has meant the government must try harder to keep pace. As a result, social media has been relatively free from censorship, and the government believes this has led to abuse.

Its response has been to tighten control. In 2019, a new Cybersecurity Law was adopted to provide more tools to regulate cyberspace. Among other things, any onshore or offshore entity that provides online services must cooperate with authorities to identify users deemed to have breached laws on cybersecurity; and, within 24 hours from receiving a request, delete “anti-government,” “offensive” or “inciteful” content.

The result has been noticeable. The Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) reported that, in 2020 at the Government’s request, Facebook blocked 236 accounts and removed 2,036 posts said to propagate fake news and anti-state content.  During the pandemic, Facebook also blocked 11 “impostor accounts” of the Ministry of Health and 141 alleged fake news posts about the Covid-19 situation. Similarly, around 29,000 videos and 24 YouTube channels deemed to be publishing anti-party or anti-state content were removed.

The MIC states that Facebook and Google have agreed to block political advertisements from users deemed to be anti-State or terrorist, and not to share advertising revenue for “content that violates Vietnamese law”. The companies have never acknowledged that such an agreement exists.

In June 2021, Vietnam introduced steps to shape the social network environment. A new national code of conduct on social media behaviours is intended to develop ethical standards, and to promote “good conduct” for social network

users and a healthy and safe online environment. The code of conduct is only a guideline, not a set of rules with which social media users must strictly comply.

Vietnam is also preparing a decree which would impose more control over cross-border social media services and livestreaming. According to the current version of the draft decree, if a user of a foreign social network (say, a Youtube channel) has more than 10,000 subscribers from Vietnam or provides livestreaming and revenue-generating services (to a Vietnamese audience), it must notify the MIC of its contact details, number of subscribers, and summary of its main content.

Additionally, upon MIC’s request, customers must remove violating content within 3 hours. If the current draft remains, it will impose a huge responsibility on both customers and social network providers.

With a young population, over 70% of which is on social media, Vietnam is focused on regulating the receipt and consumption of information/news on online platforms. The Government seeks the cooperation of tech firms like Facebook and Google. Vietnam, however, must exercise caution and not be viewed as disruptive of free speech, a clear human rights issue which will elicit a strong response from partners like the US.

Writen by

Chu Bao Khanh, Associate

Russin & Vecchi


Established in October 2006, Indochine Counsel is one of the leading business law firms in Vietnam. The firm provides professional legal services for corporate clients making investments and doing business in Vietnam. The legal practitioners at Indochine Counsel are well qualified and possess substantial experience from both international law firms and domestic law firms. The firm boasts more than 45 legal professionals working at the main office in Ho Chi Minh City and a branch office in Hanoi. Indochine Counsel’s objective is to provide quality legal services and add value to clients through effective customized legal solutions that work specifically for the client. The firm represents local and international clients in a broad range of matters including transactional work and cross-border transactions.

Frasers Law Company’s local and regional expertise makes it a leading firm for media law advice. The team’s sector specialisation includes broadcast and new media. In representative work lawyers advised on a joint venture proposal with a local state-owned telecommunications company for joint satellite operation in a case involving cross-border elements, television broadcasting and pay-television.

Tilleke & Gibbins works with multinational clients, many of which are US-based. In highlighted cases the firm acted for a publicly traded US video game company on local regulation, setting up an online game business and virtual currency issues. The team also acted for a US television network on requirements for foreign programming channels entering the local pay-television market.


Allens is one of the largest foreign firms. Present since 1993, the practice lawyers act for television broadcasters, pay television operators, radio stations and production companies. Lawyers also advise publishing clients, film producers and record companies. The TMT group works closely with the firm’s international network of lawyers.

Audier & Partners is best known for its corporate focus and dispute resolution. Highly regarded by competitors, the firm specialises in corporate sector-related work that includes mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and restructuring. Lawyers work on a range of domestic cases and have been singled out by peers for their work on media and distribution cases.

Leadco Legal Counsel acts for leading TMT clients in cases involving intellectual property, corporate law and regulatory matters. The firm assists with investment projects and transactions derived from convergence schemes. Acting for Globsis Telecom Technologies, the team assisted the software company in setting up a 100 per cent foreign-owned enterprise providing digital content on mobile devices.

Copyright specialist Russin & Vecchi has strong affiliations with law firms worldwide. The team regularly advises on cases that include cross-border elements. As part of its focus on emerging markets, the firm works closely with peers in Moscow, Vladivostok, Washington and Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.


Media lawyers at Duane Morris regularly advise clients on defamation and libel lawsuits, invasion of privacy and public disclosure laws. Lawyers have extensive knowledge of multiple segments of the media industry and work with actors, authors, film producers and record companies. The team also advises on gaming and related tax matters.

YKVN lawyers combine local and international experience with TMT sector focus. The team assists with cross-border transactional cases, foreign investment, litigation and arbitration. Lawyers in the media group have extensive experience adviseing multinational clients on various matters connected with copyright and neighbouring rights.  


With two decades of experience, Vilaf has an established position and is known for its advice to foreign investors. The firm’s industry focus stems from its telecoms work and convergence-related transactions. It is one of the largest practices nationally and highlighted by peers for litigation and arbitration skills.

IP specialist Vision & Associates litigates and advises on all matters connected with copyright and IP commercialisation. The firm has notable strength in cross-border and multi-jurisdictional transactions that include IP licensing, franchising, acquisitions and transfer. Other areas of focus include agreement negotiation and dispute resolution.



Indochine Counsel

Frasers Law Company

Tilleke & Gibbins



Audier & Partners

Baker McKenzie

Leadco Legal Counsel

Russin & Vecchi



Duane Morris

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer


Mayer Brown  


Vision & Associates



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