The Legal Landscape of Data Center Business in Vietnam

Vietnam’s digital economy is expanding rapidly, with data centers being the backbone of this growth. As the demand for data storage and processing surges, understanding the legal framework governing data center operations in Vietnam is crucial for investors and operators. The business of data centers in Vietnam is subject to a comprehensive set of laws, ensuring that these pivotal infrastructures operate smoothly, securely, and in alignment with national standards.

1.    Telecommunications Law

The Telecommunications Law, updated in 2023, outlines the requirements for telecommunications businesses, which include data centers. This law ensures that data centers maintain the confidentiality of user information, uphold the prioritized transmission of information, and adhere to the national plan on telecommunications development. It also mandates the security of telecommunications infrastructure and the implementation of state management policies.

2.    Standards and Technical Regulations Law

Under the Standards and Technical Regulations Law, data centers must comply with technical regulations and standards that ensure safety, hygiene, and environmental protection. This law also safeguards consumer interests and national security, imposing mandatory compliance with the technical standards issued by the competent state authorities.

3.    Information Technology Law

Data centers are directly impacted by the Information Technology Law, which regulates IT infrastructure. This includes the management of IT applications, data security, and the use of IT resources. The law emphasizes the role of IT in socio-economic development and sets out the rights and obligations of entities involved in the IT sector.

4.    Cybersecurity Law

The Cybersecurity Law is another critical piece of legislation that affects data centers. It requires data centers to implement robust measures to protect against cyber threats, secure user data, and prevent data breaches. The law also delineates the responsibilities of service providers in monitoring content and tracking user information.

5.    Business and Investment Law

The Business and Investment Law in Vietnam establishes a legal infrastructure for setting up and operating data centers as commercial entities. It classifies data centers as a conditional business sector, meaning they are subject to specific regulatory requirements. This comprehensive legislation guides the formation, administration, and termination of business organizations, and encompasses provisions for international investments in data center ventures. Notably, as per the revised Telecommunications Law, November 2023, there are no stipulated minimum capital contribution ratios for foreign enterprises investing in Vietnamese data centers. The law’s intent is to guarantee that businesses are conducted in compliance with the country’s corporate governance standards and investment directives.

6.    Construction Law

The Construction Law governs the physical aspect of data center operations, from the construction of facilities to compliance with safety and architectural standards. It ensures that data centers are built to withstand the demands of high-density computing environments and adhere to environmental and safety regulations.

Standards and Regulations by the Ministry of Information and Communications and the Ministry of Science and Technology

The standards and regulations specific to data centers are issued by the Ministry of Information and Communications and the Ministry of Science and Technology. These include:

TCVN 9250:2021 – Data center – Telecommunications technical infrastructure requirements: This standard specifies the minimum requirements for telecommunications technical infrastructure of data centers and computer rooms, including both private enterprise data centers and multi-tenant data centers. It applies to data centers of any scale in terms of structured cabling systems and is equivalent to ANSI TIA-942-B (July 2017).

Circular No. 03/2013/TT-BTTTT dated January 22, 2013, of the Ministry of Information and Communications on the application of standards and technical regulations for data centers: This Circular provides guidance on building data centers according to national standards. It mandates that state agencies investing in data centers with state budget funds and enterprises that build data centers to provide services must apply certain standards and technical regulations when designing, building, and operating data centers. These include TCVN 9250:2012 for telecommunications technical infrastructure requirements and QCVN 32:2011/BTTTT for lightning protection, among others. The Vietnam Telecommunications Authority manages the conformity announcement dossiers and publishes a list of data centers that conform to these standards on its website.

TCVN: 3890 2009:  related to fire protection equipment for buildings and construction – but not directly to data center infrastructure. This standard may present complexities for international constructors and investors in the data center sector, as it differs from global fire safety norms. Each country, may implement unique standards to align with its specific regulatory landscape and safety requirements. For Vietnam, TCVN: 3890 2009 encapsulates these localized specifications, adding an additional layer of compliance for foreign entities operating within the nation’s borders. Despite the existence of international fire safety and extinguishing guidelines, understanding and integrating Vietnam’s distinct standards is crucial for the successful establishment and operation of data centers in the country.

QCVN 6:2010/BTTTT standard, which sets out the standards for data center infrastructure in Vietnam, is part of a comprehensive list of technical regulations provided by the Ministry of Information and Communications.

QCVN 9:2010/BTTTT – National technical regulation on earthing of telecommunication stations: This regulation details the technical requirements for earthing systems in telecommunication stations, which are critical for the safety and security of data centers. Proper earthing is vital for protecting the infrastructure and data against electrical surges and other related issues.

QCVN 32:2011/BTTTT standard is a Vietnamese national technical regulation on lightning protection for telecommunication stations and outside cable networks.

These regulations ensure that data centers in Vietnam operate to the highest standards of quality, security, and efficiency. They provide a clear path for data center businesses to contribute to the burgeoning digital economy while adhering to the country’s strategic development goals and international best practices.

The legal framework for data center businesses in Vietnam is multifaceted, reflecting the sector’s significance to the national infrastructure. By complying with these laws and regulations, data center operators can ensure their facilities serve as secure, efficient, and reliable pillars of Vietnam’s digital landscape.

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