1. Core Concepts and Principles of the PDPD

The Personal Data Protection Decree (PDPD), Vietnam's first comprehensive data privacy law, came into effect on July 1, 2023. This landmark legislation aims to bring Vietnam's data protection regime closer to the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) but does not replace existing regulations. Here's a breakdown of the PDPD's core concepts and principles:

1.1 Personal Data Definition and Classification

The PDPD defines personal data broadly as any electronic information associated with or that helps identify a specific individual. This includes names, phone numbers, email addresses, location data, health information, and more. The law further categorizes personal data into two types:

  • Basic Personal Data: This includes common information like names, dates of birth, phone numbers, and addresses.
  • Sensitive Personal Data: This encompasses more private information, such as political or religious views, health information, and sexual orientation. Processing sensitive personal data requires stricter safeguards.

1.2 Regulated Parties

The PDPD introduces four categories of regulated parties involved in personal data processing:

  • Personal Data Controller (Controller): Determines the purposes and methods of data processing (the "why" and "how").
  • Personal Data Processor (Processor): Processes data on behalf of the Controller under a contract.
  • Controller-Processor: Acts as both Controller and Processor for the same data.
  • Third Party: Any entity other than the data subject, Controller, Processor, or Controller-Processor that is permitted to access data.

The PDPD assigns different obligations to each category. Businesses need to understand their role to ensure compliance.

1.3 Principles for Processing Personal Data

The PDPD outlines eight core principles for data processing, closely resembling those of the GDPR:

  • Lawfulness: Processing must comply with relevant laws.
  • Transparency: Data subjects must be informed about data processing activities.
  • Purpose Limitation: Data can only be processed for specific, pre-disclosed purposes.
  • Data Minimization: Collected data must be relevant and limited to what's necessary for processing.
  • Accuracy: Personal data must be accurate and kept up-to-date.
  • Integrity and Confidentiality: Data security measures must be implemented to protect data.
  • Storage Limitation: Data can only be kept for as long as necessary for processing purposes.
  • Accountability: The Controller and Controller-Processor are responsible for demonstrating compliance.

1.4 Consent Requirement and Exceptions

The PDPD emphasizes consent-based data processing. Data subjects must provide clear and verifiable consent, informed of the purpose, type of data, processing entities, and their rights. Importantly, silence or non-response is not considered consent.

However, exceptions exist where processing is permitted without consent, such as:

  • Urgent cases involving the data subject's health or safety.
  • Public disclosures mandated by law.
  • National security or emergency situations.
  • Fulfilling contractual obligations.
  • Activities authorized by sector-specific laws.

In conclusion, the PDPD establishes a robust framework for personal data protection in Vietnam. Businesses operating in Vietnam or handling data of Vietnamese citizens need to familiarize themselves with these core concepts and principles to ensure compliance with the new regulations


2. Data Security and Breach Notification

The PDPD emphasizes the importance of data security by mandating that organizations take appropriate technical and organizational measures to safeguard personal data throughout its lifecycle. Here's a closer look at the security requirements and breach notification obligations under the PDPD:

2.1 Data Security Measures

While the PDPD doesn't prescribe specific security measures, it requires organizations to implement controls proportionate to the risks associated with the data they process. This might involve a combination of technical and organizational safeguards, such as:

  • Encryption: Protecting data at rest and in transit using strong encryption algorithms.
  • Access Controls: Limiting access to personal data based on the principle of least privilege (only authorized personnel with a legitimate need can access the data).
  • Data Retention and Disposal Policies: Establishing clear guidelines for how long data is retained and how it's securely disposed of when no longer needed.
  • Regular Security Assessments and Audits: Conduct periodic evaluations to identify vulnerabilities and ensure the effectiveness of security controls.
  • Employee Training: Providing staff with data security awareness training to educate them on best practices for handling personal data.

2.2 Breach Notification Requirements

In the unfortunate event of a data breach, the PDPD mandates that organizations notify the authorities within 72 hours of becoming aware of the incident. This notification should include:

  • A description of the nature and scope of the breach, including the time and location of the incident.
  • The breached data involved, including the type and estimated number of data subjects affected.
  • The potential consequences of the breach for data subjects.
  • The measures taken or planned to address the breach and mitigate risks.

2.3 Importance of Prompt Notification

Timely notification allows authorities to investigate the breach and take appropriate action to minimize the impact on data subjects. It also demonstrates an organization's commitment to data security and transparency. Failure to notify authorities within the stipulated timeframe can result in administrative fines.

2.4 Additional Considerations

Beyond notifying authorities, organizations may also need to notify affected data subjects directly depending on the severity of the breach and the potential risks posed. The PDPD doesn't specify the exact criteria for notifying data subjects, so organizations should conduct a risk assessment to determine when direct notification is necessary.

In conclusion, the PDPD emphasizes the responsibility of organizations to protect personal data and mandates prompt notification in case of a breach. By implementing robust security measures and adhering to breach notification procedures, organizations can demonstrate their commitment to data security and compliance with the PDPD


3. Impact on Businesses

The PDPD's arrival signifies a significant shift in Vietnam's data privacy landscape, impacting businesses of all sizes that handle the personal data of Vietnamese citizens. Here's a breakdown of how the PDPD can affect your organization:

3.1 Compliance Requirements

  • Review and Update Practices: Businesses need to thoroughly review their data collection, processing, and storage practices to ensure alignment with the PDPD's requirements. This may involve identifying the legal basis for data processing, obtaining informed consent from data subjects, and implementing data security measures.
  • Developing Policies and Procedures: Organizations should establish clear policies and procedures outlining how they collect, use, store, and dispose of personal data. These policies should be readily available and communicated to employees for consistent implementation.
  • Data Subject Rights Management: Businesses must be prepared to handle data subject requests related to their personal information. This could include requests for access, rectification, erasure (right to be forgotten), or restriction of processing.

3.2 Transparency and Accountability

The PDPD emphasizes transparency in data processing activities. Businesses need to clearly inform individuals about:

  • The purposes for which their data is collected.
  • How their data is used and stored.
  • Their rights regarding their personal information.

Privacy policies should be drafted in clear and understandable language, easily accessible on your website and available upon request.

3.3 Potential Fines and Penalties

Non-compliance with the PDPD can result in significant consequences for organizations. Penalties may include:

  • Administrative fines reached hundreds of millions of Vietnamese Đồng (VND).
  • Suspension of business operations.
  • Public disclosure of non-compliance.

3.4 Reputational Risks

Beyond financial penalties, data breaches or non-compliance can severely damage your organization's reputation. Consumers are increasingly privacy-conscious, and a data privacy scandal can lead to a loss of trust and customer loyalty.

3.5 Competitive Advantage

While compliance may require initial effort, implementing robust data security practices and demonstrating a commitment to data privacy can be a competitive advantage. Consumers are more likely to trust and do business with organizations that prioritize data protection.

In conclusion, the PDPD presents both challenges and opportunities for businesses. By understanding the compliance requirements, prioritizing data security, and fostering transparency, organizations can navigate the new regulations effectively and build trust with Vietnamese consumers


4. Resources for Businesses

Understanding and complying with the PDPD is crucial for businesses operating in Vietnam or handling the personal data of Vietnamese citizens. Here are some helpful resources to guide you on your journey toward PDPD compliance:

4.1 Vietnamese Government Resources

  • Ministry of Public Security of Vietnam (English language limited): While the official website (https://en.bocongan.gov.vn/) primarily uses Vietnamese, you can utilize translation tools to navigate it and potentially find updates or clarifications on the PDPD. 

4.2 English Language Resources

  • Vietnam Briefing: This website https://www.vietnam-briefing.com/news/vietnam-law-on-personal-data-protection-latest-developments-and-insights.html/ provides English-language updates, insights, and analysis on the PDPD. They offer practical guidance on navigating the law's complexities and best practices for achieving compliance.
  • International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP): The IAPP is a global organization dedicated to privacy education and advocacy. They offer a wealth of resources on data privacy compliance, including webinars, articles, and training programs, which can be valuable for understanding broader data privacy principles even if not Vietnam-specific.

4.3 Additional Resources

  • Consulting with a legal professional specializing in Vietnamese data privacy law is highly recommended. They can provide tailored advice based on your organization's specific data processing activities and ensure your compliance strategy is legally sound.
  • Industry associations or data privacy consultancies may offer resources and guidance relevant to your industry sector.

Remember, these resources are a starting point. The PDPD is a complex regulation, and staying up-to-date with official pronouncements and interpretations is essential. Continuous monitoring of the evolving regulatory landscape and seeking professional guidance when necessary will be crucial for businesses to navigate the PDPD effectively.


5. Conclusion

The Vietnamese Personal Data Protection Decree (PDPD) marks a significant step towards enhanced data privacy for Vietnamese citizens. While businesses face challenges in adapting to the new regulations, the PDPD also presents opportunities. By prioritizing data security, fostering transparency, and demonstrating a commitment to responsible data practices, organizations can ensure compliance, build trust with Vietnamese consumers, and potentially gain a competitive advantage.

Staying informed through available resources and seeking professional guidance when needed are crucial for navigating the PDPD effectively. As Vietnam's data privacy landscape continues to evolve, businesses that embrace a proactive approach to data protection will be well-positioned for success in the long run

If you need further explanation on this subject, please don't hesitate to contact us through email at lienhe@luatminhkhue.vn or phone at: +84986 386 648. Lawyer To Thi Phuong Dzung.