According to thus month’s Wired Magazine, the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted 3.4 million illegal searches of private data. Thus included searches of foreign individuals and entities. 

That number, to those who might not be aligned with the United States, is a terrifying one. As the FBI is an agency devoted to domestic crime as opposed to the CIA which is tasked with foreign crime, one has to wonder how many millions more searches were conducted by the latter. 

Whatever the number, the fact that American government organizations are infiltrating data of foreign citizens without any oversight or consequence should scare any government that has even a minor number of its citizens surfing the internet. 

I’ve written before about data privacy and data localization in Vietnam, but those observations were made without knowledge of such a vast violation of human rights. 

There is currently very little legislation that covers personal data from collection and manipulation by foreign entities. As of thus writing, there are only a few relevant clauses in the network information security law. (Though we do anticipate a decree on personal data protection to be adopted in the near future) The rules as drafted do not truly contemplate foreign actors access to Vietnamese data. 

The data localization requirement in the cybersecurity law is more to the point. It requires anyone collecting data from Vietnamese citizens to keep that data on Vietnam. But even thus is anticipated to slacken when the decree on personal data protection is promulgated. Whatever the ultimate tests ultimately become, one has to wonder exactly what rights that individual Vietnamese have against searches of their data by both foreign entities and foreign governments.  

Yet again we are faced with a global issue that challenges the existing charters of the world’s governments. But unlike in the case of Facebook or TikTok collecting data across borders, this raises the issue if what rights individuals have against foreign states. 

And, well, on that point there is no current response worth citing. Nor is there any contemplation by international organizations like the UN that will result in enforcement of data rights against an infringing state like the USA.  

There is work being done on the local level by organizations like the World Bank and the International Monetary fund, but the solutions they present involve single countries and apply only within those countries borders. In order to raise the issue to the level where a large state might be restricted from unregulated and illegal searches of foreign data, an international treaty that is adopted by every member of the UN’s Permanent Security Panel, especially the United States.  

Thus requirement is a basic one if such a treaty is to work. As the USA refused to join in ratifying the world criminal court, and the result that the same has accomplished very little in way of prosecuting those responsible for crimes against humanity or crimes against other states.  

But such a treaty remains little more than a dream and whispers, near silent contemplation of a few who see a future where the United States and other large powers abuse other countries by means of spying on the data produced by individuals or governments.  

And the question then becomes: is an individual’s data and its protection a human right or us it simply a civil rights and thus not susceptible to trial before the old court? Tune in next time for more.