Vietnam Business Channel

Vietnam says that YouTube is in violation of advertising & content laws

Vietnam’s Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information (ABEI) , a division of the Ministry of Information and Communications published a report that publicizes violations that ABEI says have been made by Google and YouTube in Vietnam.

Specifically, the ABEI says that Google has failed to control its advertising sales and that many Small and Medium-Sized companies (SME’s) and individuals from Vietnam are buying YouTube ads directly from Google instead of through advertising agencies and advertising service in violation of a government decree issued in 2013.

Additionally, the ABEI says that Google has displayed advertisements on Vietnamese websites that are unauthorized and in some cases, illegal. The ABEI report says that Google has failed to monitor both its advertisements as well as content and that ads shown include ads with offensive content and ads that promote illegal products and services.

ABEI also notes in its report that many authentic ads for brands and companies are shown next to anti-Vietnam government videos and this create an illusion of being legal content. According to the governments report, there are at least 55,000 videos on YouTube that the government considers illegal and toxic.

Google has previously highlighted the fact that it has blocked and deleted approximately 8,000 videos, but from the government’s perspective, this isn’t good enough and the government believes that YouTube’s content management system is inadequate and that even if video is deleted it can be reposted under a different account and title name immediately thereafter.

The government is also calling into question YouTube’s business model in its report. According to the government, since YouTube shares revenues with the individual or company posting the video, it is in effect providing revenue to individuals who are conducting “Anti-State” activities.

A spokesman for ABEI said that, "This is a serious violation of provisions on advertising, a worrying risk that affects the safety and reputation of brands and businesses. The recurrence of this situation shows that Google's remedies have failed to thoroughly resolve these violations, creating risks for brands when running advertisements on YouTube."

ABEI’s report also took direct aim at the roll of advertising agencies and advertising / marketing service companies and said that it had found multiple instances that agencies had not effectively monitored where there clients ads were being shown, and that many well known brands had their ads inserted into illegal and toxic videos. Additionally, these agencies failed to monitor the advertising of foreign-businesses that are providing “cross-border” services in Vietnam.

To tackle these violations, the ministry is working with the State Bank of Vietnam on policies to block and manage cash flow and other payment activities related to toxic content on cross-border platforms, the agency said.