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April 8, 2020

New Penalties for Posting Fake News on Social Networks

On February 3, 2020, the Vietnamese Government issued Decree No. 15/2020/ND-CP stipulating penalties for administrative violations in the fields of postal services, telecommunications, radio frequency, information technology, and electronic transactions (“Decree 15”). Decree 15 will replace the existing decree on penalties in the technology and telecom sectors (Decree No. 174/2013/ND-CP) and will take effect on April 15, 2020.

One of the most notable features provided by Decree 15 is the introduction of specific administrative penalties for users who post or share fake news on social networks, which will be imposed in addition to any civil and/or criminal liabilities related to distortion, slander, defamation and the like.

Penalties for Social Network Users

In particular, Article 101 of Decree 15 sets out the penalties for violations of regulations on the use of social networks. These include administrative fines of between VND 10 million (approx. USD 430) and VND 20 million (approx. USD 860) on social network users who commit the following violations:

  1. Posting or sharing false information (fake news) or untruthful, distorted, or slanderous information that offends the reputation of agencies or organizations or the honor and dignity of individuals;
  2. Posting or sharing information that advocates unsound customs, superstition, obscenity, or depravity which is not in line with the traditions and fine customs of the nation;
  3. Posting or sharing graphic depictions of acts of slashing, killing, accidents, or horror;
  4. Posting or sharing fabricated information that causes panic among the population or incites violence, crime, social evils or gambling, or that serves gambling activities;
  5. Posting or sharing press, literature and art works or publications without the permission of the copyright holder, or works that have not been approved for circulation, or have been banned or revoked;
  6. Advertising, promoting, or sharing information about banned goods and services;
  7. Posting or sharing inaccurate maps of Vietnam;
  8. Posting or sharing links to websites with banned content.

Higher administrative fines of VND 20 million (approx. USD 860) to VND 30 million (approx. USD 1,290) are imposed on the disclosure of information classified as state secrets or personal secrets, but which is not serious enough to face criminal punishment.

Moreover, in all of the above cases, the violators would also be required to remove the fake news or violating content that was posted or shared.

Penalties for Social Network Providers

Correspondingly, Decree 15 also imposes additional penalties on social network providers who fail to prevent fake news from being posted on their social networks.

In particular, Article 100.3 of Decree 15 imposes an administrative fine of VND 50 million (approx. USD 2,130) up to VND 70 million (approx. USD 3,000) on social network providers who fail to block or remove violating information (including fake news) from their platforms, and/or who intentionally provide, store, or transmit the violating content listed in items 1-7 above, or information that is considered not to be in the country’s interest.

Violating social network providers would also be required to remove the fake news or violating content that was posted or shared, and be subject to suspension of their social network license and/or revocation of their social network’s domain name.

Penalties in Other Fields

In addition to the foregoing newly stipulated penalties on fake news, the administrative penalties on various other violations in the fields of postal services, telecommunications, radio frequency, information technology and electronic transactions have also been overhauled. For example, penalties related to data privacy and security have been slightly increased. Notably, penalties on violations related to collecting personal information without consent are increased from VND 10 million (approx. 430) to VND 20 million (approx. USD 860); and penalties on violations related to adopting adequate cybersecurity measures are increased from VND 20 million (approx. USD 860) to VND 50 million (approx. USD 2,150).

For more information on Decree 15, please contact us at [email protected].

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