Not an exaggeration as the saying seems to be, digital advertising produces a turbocharged effect on the rise of the modern internet. Algorithmically targeted programmatic advertising not only drives innovations but also democratises opportunities for companies wishing to reach diverse population demographics. Cross-border advertising services are thus increasingly offered to anyone who aims to achieve mass persuasion and scale up globally.
The exponential growth of the advertising industry has come with regulatory concerns in relation to illegal and unethical advertising practices. To grapple with this issue, Vietnam in 2021 enacted Decree No.70/2021/ND-CP to administer the cross-border provision of advertising services.
|Manh-Hung Tran-Head of IPTech Practice Baker McKenzie Vietnam |
Notifying the state agency of certain contact details, taking down infringing content, and providing user data upon request are three notable obligations imposed by Decree 70 on offshore ads service providers.
Despite having entered into effect in September 2021, Decree 70’s obligations are said not to be sufficiently discharged by businesses. In a conference hosted by the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) in November 2022, it was reported that only nine offshore enterprises had notified their contact details to the MIC.
The Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information (ABEI) under the MIC even explicitly named several tech giants failing to obey this notification duty. The agency intended to block these companies’ business in Vietnam should they keep avoiding the law.
Placing advertisements on infringing content also draws local authorities’ attention. Since September 2022, the MIC has been releasing lists of “blacklisted” websites and “whitelisted” press agencies, aggregated information websites, and social networks.
Accordingly, companies are prevented from cooperating in running advertisements with those under the blacklist, while they are encouraged to display ads on whitelisted sites. The MIC planned to expand the blacklist to cover not only infringing websites, but also social network accounts and content channels.
Non-compliance with a legal requirement might stem from, among other reasons, companies’ incomprehension of the law. Thus, making sense of the applicable obligations is essential.
Firstly, concerning the notification requirement, when a foreign advertising service provider places multiple servers in Vietnam to render the advertising service, the location of all these servers must be notified to the MIC.
As Decree 70 does not specify that the point of contact must be located in Vietnam, notifying the MIC of the contact details of the personnel in charge of compliance sitting abroad should suffice. If the designated personnel resides in Vietnam, their contact shall also be included in the notification.
There is currently no submission form that must be used for this notification procedure. Companies can choose to submit the required information using their own templates via various channels: directly in person or via post to ABEI at 115 Tran Duy Hung in Hanoi; an online submission via the Public Service Portal of the MIC; or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Secondly, in general, offshore ads service providers must handle violating advertisements within 24 hours upon receipt of a request from the MIC. In cases violating advertisements negatively impact Vietnam’s national security, a competent state authority will immediately execute blocking measures, which can only be lifted if the violation is addressed as requested.
Companies are being urged to strictly comply with Decree 70 and relevant advertising regulations, or else they risk facing adverse enforcement actions from local authorities. In cases where sufficient compliance is yet to be feasible, an exchange of notice with a competent authority explaining the situation and proposing alternative solutions will be more preferred.
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To enforce more rigorous control of cross-border advertising activities, the Vietnamese government issued Decree No.70/2021/ND-CP dated July 20, amending and supplementing provisions of Decree No.181/2013/ND-CP dated 2013, elaborating on some articles of the Law on Advertising. Decree 70 will take effect on September 15, 2021.
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To enforce more rigorous control of cross-border advertising activities, the Vietnamese government issued Decree No.70/2021/ND-CP on July, which took effect on September 15. Thai Gia Han, junior associate at Indochine Counsel, pores over the new conditions applicable to digital advertising in Vietnam and how these impact those who provide cross-border advertising services.