Vietnam mulls 'banning' mobile messaging apps

Government will reportedly decide whether to build policies to "manage" mobile chat apps such as Viber and WhatsApp due to the pressure they have put on local telco revenues.
Written by Ellyne Phneah, Contributor
Vietnam's government may ban mobile chat apps such as WhatsApp because of the damage caused to local telcos' revenues.

Vietnam's government is considering banning mobile messaging apps such as Viber, LINE and WhatsApp to protect the revenue of local telcos.
According to the Vietnamese prime minister, the government will "build and promulgate the policies" in managing the free communication services on the Internet's over-the-top (OTT) services".

Reuters reported on Tuesday,  while it was not clear what the government plans to do, state media said Vietnam might "ban" all OTT services.

This comes after after the government ordered all foreign Web sites including Facebook, to have at least one server in Vietnam and announced a new clause that blogs and social media profiles of individuals are only allowed to share personal information instead other forms of information starting September 1, 2013.

A spokesperson of Viettel Telecom, one of the country's largest telcos, told state media, "We will lose 40-50 percent of our revenue if all of our 40 million customers use Viber instead of traditional call and text."

However, John Buhm Park, CEO of NHN Vietnam, the developer of Japan's LINE, told the newswire a ban will not happen. "The government has more options, like cooperation between OTT and network providers," Park said.

Another country, Saudi Arabia has reportedly planned to block access to chat programs if they fail to comply with requirements set by the country's telecom regulators.

Industry watchers however, advise telcos must be open to partnering app developers to share end-user data with them to allow integration with the user's social connections, or cooperate with each other to face the challenge.

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