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MIC to regulate OTT communication in Vietnam
Anh Kiet 20:32, 2023/03/24
The MIC called for a level playing field for domestic and foreign companies.

Vietnam's Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) is seeking Government approval for a proposal to regulate over-the-top (OTT) interpersonal communication, which would bring popular messaging apps such as Zalo, Viber, and Telegram under the Telecommunications Law.

The ministry believes that over-the-top service platforms such as Zalo, Viber, Telegram, and WhatsApp are replacing mobile phone services.

However, there are currently no legal provisions governing these platforms, and there is no way to protect users and information security, the MIC stressed.

Over-the-top media services, like Zalo, Viber, and Telegram, are displayed on a smartphone. Photo: Anh Quan

Some world governments (in Europe, China, and South Korea) have classified this service as a telecom service and regulated it in accordance with the Telecommunications Law, it added.

The ministry also called for a level playing field for domestic and foreign companies. Specifically, domestic OTT platforms must be charged for their services, while foreign providers must have commercial agreements with an approved domestic provider to do so.

Even for OTT services that do not charge fees, the MIC still wants its providers to register with MIC.

Meanwhile, international large-scale platforms offering services in Vietnam will have to either have commercial agreements or set up their representative offices in Vietnam to ensure they abide by local laws.

The drafters of the amendments said that regulating OTT services will ensure user protection and information security.

According to digital security firm Kaspersky, the platforms most used by Vietnamese children in 2022 were homegrown texting and calling app Zalo, along with YouTube and Tiktok.

In the report, Zalo topped the list with over 26% of children using it, far ahead of YouTube, which came in second with around 16%. TikTok accounted for over 11%, followed by Facebook with 10%.

Kaspersky reviewed anonymized data such as search queries, most popular Android applications, and website categories voluntarily provided by Kaspersky Safe Kids users. The company said the data would help parents better understand their children's favorite topics and passions.

Internationally, the most popular apps were YouTube (31.6% of users), TikTok (19%), WhatsApp (18%), and Roblox, an online gaming platform and game creation system.

According to the German market and consumer data company Statista, the number of mobile Internet users in Vietnam is estimated to reach 72 million in 2022 and is expected to increase to 82 million by 2025.

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