The Free Internet Project

Lao People's Democratic Republic

Summary: The constitution of Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) provides for freedom of speech, but no general privacy right. Lao PDR has no ISP safe harbors or net neutrality requirement, but has limited protection for personal data. 

Internet freedoms:

(1) Free speech  

The Lao People’s Democratic Republic Constitution recognizes the freedom of speech and press in Chapter IV, Article 44: "Lao citizens have the right and freedom of speech, press and assembly; and have the right to set up associations and to stage demonstrations which are not contrary to the laws." [English text

According to the U.S. State Department Human Rights Report for 2017, the government restricted speech, especially criticism of the government.  Several activists were convicted for posting criticisms of the government on Facebook.  The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications can order ISPs to terminate Internet access to users found to violate the laws regarding objectionable content. 

(2) Privacy

The Lao PDR's Constitution does not recognize a general right of privacy.  Article 42 recognizes: "The right of Lao citizens in their bodies, honour and houses are inviolable. Lao citizens cannot be arrested or searched without the order of the Public Prosecutor or the people's courts, except if otherwise provided by the laws." [English text]

According to the U.S. State Deparment Human Rights Report of 2017, Lao PDR's government sometimes monitored Internet activity, and it also had the capability for more extensive monitoring because all Internet traffic to Lao PDR goes through one gateway.  The National Internet Committee requires ISPs to link to the gateway, to facilitate such monitoring. 

Lao PDR does not have a general data protection law, but the Law Protection on Electronic Data (2017) and Law on Prevention and Combating Cyber Crime (2015) offer partial regulation. 

(3) Access 

Lao PDR does not guarantee Internet access. According to 2016 ITU figures, Lao PDR had a 21.87 % Internet penetration with 1,478,051 users.

ISP safe harbors

Lao PDR does not have a safe harbor for ISPs.

Net neutrality

Lao PDR does not recognize net neutrality.