Vietnam is looking to strengthen its data protection rules to ensure there are no leaks of confidential citizen data as the population increasingly uses digital tools in their daily lives.
A government task force, under the Vietnam Public Security Ministry, is working on what is known as Project 06 to frame rules on information security with regards to sharing information contained in the national population database and other specialised databases.
As Vietnam increasingly digitalises, the demand for citizen data has gone up as companies look to provide seamless digital services to their customers as the country digitalises.
According to Vietnam Digital Communications Association (VDCA) chairman Nguyen Minh Hong, the country expects the digital economy will account for 20 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025.
Hong added that the government has accelerated the development of digital infrastructure and “also improved policies, particularly those related to internet-based services”, for example, cross-border information provision services, cloud computing, data storage, online games, and social networks.
As part of the country’s digital transformation roadmap, Project 06 aims to use the national population database, the electronic identification and authentication system, and chip-based citizen ID cards to innovatively serve the five main tasks of online public services.
The five identified areas are administrative procedures; socio-economic development; digital citizen development; completion of an ecosystem for connecting and exploiting, enriching the population databases; and administration of the localities at all levels.
Considering how valuable the national population databases, as well as the various specialised databases, are, the country’s Deputy Minister of Public Security Nguyen Duy Ngoc said that information and transmission security is important to protect confidential and valuable data.
Over the past few years, there have been incidents where personal information has been leaked in sectors such as telecoms, banking and finance, e-commerce.
There have also been several cyber attacks aimed at stealing data to sell it on the black market.
There were 1383 cyber attacks recorded across Vietnam in January this year, an increase of 10.29 percent from the number of attacks in December last year, according to the Vietnam National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).
Vietnam has a basic legal framework to protect personal data.
However, compared to the general data protection regulation (GDPR) of the European Union (EU), which is considered a global benchmark, the Vietnamese data protection laws are “rather mild while the consequences of such illegal activities could be truly serious and cause damage to the honour, dignity, safety, and even life of many victims”, the vice chairwoman of the Institute of Legal Science (under the Justice Ministry), Chu Thi Hoa, said.
According to reports, she is planning to consider putting in additional regulations on criminal liability for law-breaking activities related to personal data privacy, such as illegally collecting, using, or selling personal data, in the country’s penal code.