Vietnam’s National Assembly has passed a cybersecurity law requiring companies such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc. to store all data of Vietnam-based users in the country and open local offices.
The measure has drawn rare dissent from some lawmakers and government leaders as well as local tech groups, who sent a petition to the legislature that warned it would hurt the economy. Demonstrators on Sunday protested nationwide against the bill, saying it would limit free speech.
“The cyber security law is a big backward step for Vietnam,” Le Dang Doanh, a Hanoi-based economist and former government adviser said of the bill, which was passed by 87 percent of lawmakers on Tuesday. “It will restrict people’s freedom of speech and it will deter foreign investors as it will seriously hurt the business environment in Vietnam.”
Taking effect Jan. 1, the law will give the authorities wide discretion to determine when expression must be censored as “illegal” because some provisions will make it easier for the government to identify and prosecute people for online activities, he said.