Hanoi proposal on selling data will not breach privacy, officials claim

By Vo Hai, Viet Tuan, Ba Do   July 7, 2018 | 09:51 pm PT
Hanoi proposal on selling data will not breach privacy, officials claim
Vietnam's proposed decision to collect money from providing citizens' data to organizations has raised privacy concerns. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy
They assert such data has always been shared among banks, administrative and notary organizations, and is legal.

Hanoi has proposed that the government allows it collect money for providing citizens’ data to entities like banks or notary organizations.

Under the proposal, this scheme could be applied nationwide from 2020 onwards.

“If approved, the city could collect over VND300 billion ($13.4 million) each year,” said Nguyen Duc Chung, Chairman of Hanoi’s People’s Committee.

The national citizen database gathers and updates citizens’ basic information electronically. The database is intended to be used by organizations and individuals for governance purposes, such as administrative procedures.

Many people disagree with the proposal. Some have said the database was meant to ease administrative procedures, not make money; and others said this would lead to citizens’ personal information being leaked.

Chairman Chung has tried to allay such concerns, saying the data would be the same as the information in a citizen’s ID, and thus cannot considered “personal data.” He added that such data has always been shared among banks, administrative and notary organizations, and is completely legal.

Tran Hong Phu, Deputy Director of the Police Department of Citizen Registry and Immigration (C72), said that organizations and entities can only confirm the veracity of citizens’ data with the Ministry of Public Security. Thus, there is no risk of it being leaked, he maintained.

Asked to specify what data can be collected, exactly, Phu said there is no law on it yet. Once citizen databases from all cities and provinces are completed, the Ministry of Public Security will compile and build its own database, he said.

However, according to a draft proposal made by the Ministry of Finance last year regarding the fees and collection of fees for using data in the national citizens database, there are 15 information pieces of a citizen which could be collected. They include a person’s name, date of birth, gender, place of birth, hometown, religion, nationality, marital status, home address and blood type.

The draft also stated that the price for each piece of info would be VND800 (3.5 cents), while a comprehensive report on all citizens within a city or province ranges from VND 150,000 to VND250,000 per person.

By the end of last year, Hanoi had finished developing its own database, containing information on 7.5 million of its residents. The national database would be a collection of smaller databases from individual cities and provinces.

Currently, a data center is being developed to utilize the national citizen database to ease administrative procedures, according to Phu. The task is set to be completed in 2020.

However, cities and provinces that have already finished collecting their citizens’ data, like Hanoi, can start collecting money on obtaining the government’s approval.

The compiling of Vietnam’s national citizen database, estimated to cost over VND3 trillion, began last year and is expected to be completed in 2020.

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