Business operation v.s. protection of State secrets in Vietnam

Article 1 of the Ordinance on State Secrets defines State secrets as “information on cases, affairs, documents, objects, venues, time, speech, carrying important contents in the fields of politics, national defense, security, external affairs, economy, science, technology and other fields, which the State does not publicize or has not yet publicized and the disclosure of which will cause harm to the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam”. As a result, regulations on protection of State secrets in Vietnam are very broad and general which may sometimes conflict with certain business transaction or operation. For example,

(a)          unpublished details of high ranking State and political leaders may be regarded as “top secrets”; 

(b)          personal data of various State officials (especially those at high level positions or those working in sensitive sectors or organizations) may be regarded as secret;

(c)           “information concerning deposits and other deposited property of customers at credit institutions”, and “customer codes used for identifying individual payment cards of the payment card users, credit cards and other types of cards used in banking operations; and passwords of computer users for remote access systems in banking sectors may be regarded as secret; and

(d)          unpublished data on capital and assets of State-owned enterprises.

(a) and (b) may make it more difficult for an e-commerce service provider to collect users’ information if such user happens to be a high ranking State officials. (c) may make it more difficult for banks to exchange customers information to prevent fraud or verify credibility of a customer. (d) may make it more difficult for investors to conduct due diligence into State-owned enterprises.