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Vietnam introduces two new internet fines: a $5,000 fine for social media and $5,000 fine for e-commerce

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Vietnam’s internet is changing especially fast. This week two new fines have been introduced to regulate Vietnam’s internet. Here’s the skinny.

The $5,000 e-commerce fine: Decree 185/2013

This new decree issues some new hard lines for the legalities of operating an e-commerce site in Vietnam. The detailed fines are as follows:

  • If a site does not have a proper e-commer license, does not report changes, and does not report service changes on their site: $200 to $1,000 fine
  • If a site reports incorrect information, and/or falsified information: $1,000 to $1,400 fine
  • If any of these violations are intentional, the fine is outright doubled, bringing the total possible, if all violations are present, to up about $5,000.

These fines may severely restrict young e-commerce sites that are testing new business models in the market. It is not clear yet what the impact will be.

The $5,000 social media fine: Decree 174/2013

This new decree is the bigger focus between the two fines in the eyes of international media. It follows up on Decree 72, which restricted the posting of news onto social media, but now it takes an even harder line with a fine of $5,000.

The law states that it will fine people who post “propaganda against the state” or “reactionary ideology” on social media channels like Facebook. Some may speculate that this has a close connection to the recent Twitter DNS blocking a few weeks ago.

The possible implications

Both of these fines, especially the latter, have been posted throughout Vietnam’s social media with rapt discussion in Vietnamese. It is still unclear what kind of impact this will make on the state of the internet in the country. The e-commerce fine will no doubt hold back smaller e-commerce sites and possibly cause e-commerce startups to shy away from the industry. The social media fine could cause social media netizens (number in the tens of millions now) to be more passive or seek other avenues to voice their opinions. Both fines limit internet activity.


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