Jurisdictions around the world are fighting to keep up with the pace of change when it comes to new technologies. Often, these technologies develop more quickly than the regulations that govern them, leaving governments rushing to catch up. 

In light of these developments, Vietnam’s new Law on Telecommunications is set to enter into force this summer, with significant implications for foreign investors and enterprises providing online services.

Background to the new Law

On 24 November 2023, a new Law on Telecommunications was ratified in the National Assembly, sailing through the state legislature with 468 out of 472 deputies voting in favour. 

Once it enters into force, on 1 July 2024, the new law – which contains 10 chapters and 73 articles – will replace the previous legislation (the 2009 law). 

In doing so, it should ensure that the new Law on Telecommunications is consistent with other regulations published since the previous law entered into force more than a decade ago, such as the Law on Competition and the Law on Planning, which have implications for telecommunications. 

Meanwhile, legislative reform is needed now to ensure that Vietnam meets the commitments it made in the new-generation free trade agreements signed since the old legislation was enacted. These agreements require higher standards in domestic telecommunications law than the World Trade Organisation (WTO) baseline.

What is different compared to the previous legislation?

This law, which aims to bring Vietnam closer to international practices and standards, includes provisions on cloud storage, online telecommunications services, and data centers.

Regular readers might remember that we have written before about Vietnam’s plan for a national data center – indicating the government’s direction towards improving digital infrastructure to facilitate e-government, online public services, and socio-economic development.

In that spirit, the law takes a ‘light touch’ approach, as it aims to provide a legal framework to encourage the development of telecommunications infrastructure and digital services in Vietnam. For instance, there will be less onerous requirements on foreign enterprises than seen in the past with traditional telecommunications services. 

With that in mind, the law aims to facilitate the mutual sharing of infrastructure between local and foreign enterprises and give the latter access to public land and utilities for this purpose. It will also require real estate investors to ensure that their projects have room for telecommunications services.

How could it impact foreign enterprises?

It is important to note that the new law contains no restrictions on foreign ownership for enterprises wishing to operate cloud storage services, data centers, or so-called over-the-top (OTT) services. In other words, enterprises providing these services can be 100% foreign-owned.

The law also contains important provisions on personal data protection. We have written before about Vietnam’s new Personal Data Protection (PDP) Decree, which requires ‘data controllers’ to obtain consent from the data subject before processing personal data. 

Likewise, the new Law on Telecommunications prohibits online service providers from accessing the personal data of users without their consent, and also requires them to prevent spam calls or fraudulent messages.

Last, but not least, the new Law on Telecommunications contains provisions on the auction of domestic phone numbers and domain names.

Get in touch to find out more

For more information about the Law on Telecommunications, and how it will impact investors and enterprises in Vietnam, just contact us on:

Disclaimer: This article and its content are for information only and are not given as legal or professional advice. they do not necessarily reflect all relevant legal provisions with respect to the subject matter. Readers should seek legal or professional advice before taking or refraining to take any action.

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