ARTICLE 19, Legal Initiatives for Vietnam, and Open Net have presented a joint submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee regarding its forthcoming review during the Committee’s 140th session, which will be held from 4 to 28 March 2024.
The List of Issues highlights key internet freedom issues arising from actions taken by the Vietnamese government. As a one-party state without a separation of powers or an independent judiciary, Vietnam has been intensively escalating its efforts to limit freedom of expression, access to information, and the right to privacy on the internet. The state under review has enacted and implemented new laws and regulations to exert control over online platforms, and to penalise internet users for exercising their fundamental digital rights, for which the international community must hold Vietnam accountable.
Vietnam has oppressive laws that target political activism and dissent. These laws are used to penalise online expression, and there has been a significant increase in punishment for online speech criticising the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. Vietnam enforces restrictive provisions under three Articles of the Penal Code, targeting political activism and dissent. The Cybersecurity Law of 2018 and Decree 53/2022/ND-CP violate freedom of speech and privacy rights, allowing government access to data without independent oversight. Further Decrees broaden the scope of state surveillance and mandate data localisation; restrict websites from publishing original content; and impose financial penalties for illegal online speech. A new Decree, not yet implemented, requires real-name identity registration for users on social media platforms.