The 20 000 km long famous AAG submarine internet cable, linking Southeast Asia and the United States, via Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei, Hong Kong and the Philippines are experiencing further difficulties these recent days leading to a new slowdown internet speeds in Vietnam. The last repair had just finished a few weeks ago and almost 49 million people in Vietnam, more than half of the country’s population, was happy to come back to a regular utilization of the internet when a new problem arrived a few days ago still not identified and with no reparation plan organize yet. This is the fifth time this year that this cable has been repaired, after reparation in January, February, August, and October. The AAG, which had cost $ 560 million for its installation, manages more than 60% of the country’s international internet traffic with a capacity of 2 terabits per second. The average speed of high speed in Vietnam is still ten times lower than in Singapore, and with a download speed of 5.46 megabytes per second, the Internet speed of Vietnam is ranked 74th out of 189 countries and territories.
In parallel, still concerning internet, a plan is making its way in since several months stating that “foreign companies, such as Google, Facebook, Viber, and Skype providing telecommunications and Internet services in Vietnam should respect the laws of the country, its sovereignty, and its national security, and thus should obtain a license, a representative office and servers in the country to manage the use of local data”. Many experts point out that this was not so simple and that the requirements are not only useless but also against the international conventions. The Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), said that this goes against the commitments made by Vietnam upon its accession to the WTO and the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement. The commitment signed by Vietnam for EVFTA says: the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement that Vietnam signed last February does not allow signatories to dictate whether a company is allowed to do business based on the location of its IT infrastructure. On the Google side, they replied: « We have clear policies for government removal requests from around the world, and these policies have not changed .»
The Ministry of Information and Communications of Vietnam had already issued a circular in January 2017 asking Facebook and similar sites to work with the authorities to block 2200 clips on YouTube containing content labeled “toxic with anti-government content.” Google had partially obeyed, removing nearly 1300 clips last April. President Tran Dai Quang called last august for tighter internet controls and highlighted threats to cybersecurity stating that “hostile forces used the Internet to organize offensive campaigns trying to damage the prestige of the party and state leaders, with a negative impact on the party members and the people ” and he also adds « Vietnam needs to pay more attention to the online information, especially on social media, and must find an efficient solution to stop medias and blogs divulging wrong and dangerous content ».