News / Asia

    Vietnam Examines Policy on Chat Apps, Ban Possible

    FILE - Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung gives the keynote address at the 12th International Institute for Strategic Studies Asia Security Summit, Singapore, May 31, 2013. FILE - Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung gives the keynote address at the 12th International Institute for Strategic Studies Asia Security Summit, Singapore, May 31, 2013.
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    FILE - Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung gives the keynote address at the 12th International Institute for Strategic Studies Asia Security Summit, Singapore, May 31, 2013.
    FILE - Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung gives the keynote address at the 12th International Institute for Strategic Studies Asia Security Summit, Singapore, May 31, 2013.
    Reuters
    Vietnam's government is to decide policy in managing free internet-based telecom tools like Viber, Line and Whatsapp, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said on Friday, a move bound to increase concerns about Communist Party censorship.
     
    State media said the government might “ban” free messaging services because of the harm done to network providers.
     
    Vietnam has repeatedly come under fire for curbs on free speech and harsh treatment for bloggers who dare to criticize the one-party regime.
     
    The prime minister said the government would “build and promulgate the policies” in managing the free communication services on the internet (Over-The-Top (OTT) services.)”
     
    Like many other confusing regulations, it didn't explain clearly what the government plans to do. But state media said it might “ban” all OTT services.
     
    “We will lose 40-50 percent of our revenue if all of our 40 million customers use Viber instead of traditional call and text,” a representative of Viettel Telecom, one of the country's biggest phone network providers, told state media.
     
    Vietnam has 17 million smart phone users, according to a report from Google. The demand for communications is huge with 60 million people under the age of 30.
     
    Jong Buhm Park, Chief Executive Officer of NHN Vietnam, the developer of Japan's Line app, said a ban would not happen.
     
    “The government has more options, like cooperation between OTT and network providers,” Park told Reuters.
     
    The prime minister's statement comes two weeks after the government ordered all foreign websites, including Facebook, to have at least one server hosted in Vietnam.
     
    “This looks like an additional step from the government to censor internet users,” said a diplomat who requested anonymity. “Once it can't control them, it will block everything,”
     
    Saudi Arabia in June banned Viber, which is hard for the state to monitor and deprives licensed telecom companies of revenue from international calls and texts.

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    Comments
         
    by: Invictus
    August 23, 2013 3:25 PM
    Typical policy from outdated communist regime. Vietnam will be at a competitive disadvantage if it keeps its own population in ignorance. No one ever gave consent for the government to carry out policies against the public good of the people. Dictatorships of any form will only hinder not help a country in the information age.

    by: Doug from: Canada
    August 21, 2013 10:51 AM
    Typical communist police state regime policy.The commie leaders in Hanol are afraid of letting in more freedom for they know it would mean the end of their brutal supression of the Vietnmese people who yearn for freedom and democracy.

    by: Igor from: Russia
    August 21, 2013 1:00 AM
    If the government was to banned Viber,Line...It would be a big setback for Vietnamese people in comparision to other peoples because they would not enjoy the benefits of such free services.
    In Response

    by: NMK from: VietName
    August 22, 2013 1:32 AM
    The VietNam's government just had a meeting to find the way to manage and regulate the internet-based telecom tools, Not "ban".. Because we don't have the law to manage this services. Recently, China used free WECHAT as propaganda tool for political purposes.Vietname is freedom nation, we always respect citizens benefits, but we strongly protect our territory and national benefits.. We are in the developing way... All of our friends are welcome.

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