TikTok Singapore Asked to Remove Content That Violates Vietnam’s Laws

Violations of local laws were discovered in TikTok's cross-border services in Vietnam following an in-depth review of TikTok's activities, according to the Vietnamese Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC).
October 07, 2023 | 09:55

At the monthly press conference on October 5, Le Quang Tu Do, Head of the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC)’s Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information said that an intersectoral inspection group examined two entities of TikTok in Vietnam, which are Ho Chi Minh City-based representative office of TikTok Pte.Ltd ( TikTok Office) and TikTok Technologies Vietnam Company Limited (TikTok Vietnam). In particular, the inspection group identified violations of TikTok Singapore.

TikTok Singapore has stored harmful information for children

Although TikTok Pte. Ltd (TikTok Singapore) is not the subject of inspection, it is the unit that directly manages, operates, and provides cross-border services in Vietnam through the website TikTok.com and the TikTok application. Therefore, TikTok Singapore is the unit responsible for complying with the provisions of Vietnamese law in providing cross-border services.

Regarding the provision of social networking services and child protection, TikTok Singapore has stored illegal information on CDN servers in Vietnam. This includes fake, distorted information that incites violence and social evils and information that is harmful to children. The content censorship process is ineffective, allowing content that violates Vietnamese law. The way of distributing and recommending content, which is based on user interactions, preferences, and interests, easily leads to the rapid spread of toxic illegal content.

Besides, the Singaporean company also lacks any safeguards or mechanisms to secure the confidentiality of children's information. It does not send risk warnings when kids contribute or update confidential information about their personal lives, recognize, or remove images, documents, and material that are improper for children and could harm their healthy development.

TikTok Singapore Asked to Remove Content That Violates Vietnam’s Laws
Head of the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC)’s Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information Le Quang Tu Do

TikTok Singapore also has no policy to protect the copyrighted content of users. It does not announce its contact point with the State management agency on copyright and related rights issues.

Regarding the provision of e-commerce services, TikTok Singapore has not published information about the application owner on the homepage of the TikTok Shop application according to Vietnamese regulations. It also does not fully store seller information as prescribed when registering to use the service, nor does it fully inspect and supervise to ensure the provision of information about sellers' goods on the e-commerce trading floor according to regulations.

According to the Head of the MIC’s Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information, after the inspection, his office worked with the TikTok Singapore representative and the representative committed to implement measures to tackle the violations.

In addition, the TikTok Office and TikTok Vietnam have coordinated and provided full information to authorities as required, committing to making specific adjustments and notifying them in written documents to the MIC within 30 days. If cross-border platforms do not comply with Vietnamese law, they will certainly not be welcome to operate in Vietnam.

Unlawful content must be banned

The MIC’s inspection team concluded that TikTok lacks tools to ensure children's privacy and the lack of policies to protect copyrighted content. As such, the team made several proposals to both TikTok and Vietnamese government authorities to resolve the issues.

The MIC has been asked to remove all content that violates Vietnamese law and to prevent further upload of such material. Abiding by Vietnamese law must be a part of TikTok's community standards, and there must be regular notifications to all TikTok users to remind them to follow the law. Algorithms must also be used to guide users away from illicit content, and all political advertisements regarding anti-state content must be banned.

Illustrative image (Photo: genk.vn)
Illustrative image (Photo: genk.vn)

Moreover, TikTok must verify its users' age and delete all accounts belonging to users aged under 13. TikTok screen time restrictions must also be imposed on users aged under 18.

There are two other proposals regarding children's relationships with the platform. Firstly, underage users' personal information must be uploaded only with their parents, caretakers, and guardians' consent. Secondly, videos with children's images must be censored before being uploaded on the platform. Children also cannot earn money from TikTok, the team said.

The MIC’s inspection team proposed that the Ministry of Industry and Trade must implement measures to ensure that TikTok Singapore fully provides information on vendors on TikTok Shop to local Vietnamese authorities, and ensure that it has measures to remove and prevent information about goods and services that violate the law within 24 hours of any authority request.

A representative of TikTok in Vietnam said the platform has always respected local laws and regulations and will continue to cooperate with authorities to find solutions to the aforementioned feedback.

Vietnam is ranked 6th globally when it comes to the number of TikTok users, at around 50 million, according to a Data Reportal report.

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Phuong Nguyen
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