Vietnamese phone users hung up about being forced to send selfie profiles to providers

By Staff reporters   April 10, 2018 | 04:52 pm PT
Vietnamese phone users hung up about being forced to send selfie profiles to providers
A man browses his cell phone in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
The unprecedented requirement has raised network security concerns about data safety.

Vietnamese mobile owners are being asked via text messages to submit profile photos to their network providers, something they never needed to do before.

The request follows a decree issued by the Ministry of Information and Communications which requires subscribers to provide photographic proof of their identities.

The government claims this will result in better control of network subscribers and prevent the abundance of fake SIM cards in Vietnam.

However, the new regulation has caused public uproar over data security concerns and for being too time consuming.

“Even registering ownership of a car or property doesn’t require photos,” said Do Thi Hoa, one user who received the message. However, she said she intended to submit her photo before the April 24 deadline because she didn't want to get cut off.

Subscribers are required to submit their photos either to a local network agent or upload them directly via a network app within the next two weeks. One network is even offering to make home visits for senior citizens who are not familiar with technology.

The network providers have guaranteed their customers’ personal information will be in good hands.

“Photos and other private information will be archived in our database and will only be used to manage subscribers as stated by law,” said a representative from MobiFone, one of the largest network providers in Vietnam.

However, experts believe the regulation has loopholes that could be taken advantage of. A photo taken by a customer and sent to a network provider cannot be authenticated, said Vu Tien Vinh, a lawyer.

The images could also slip through the network security holes, a scenario in which the responsibility of the network provider has not yet been clearly defined, Vinh added.

The lawyer said he didn’t think that photos would help the government to control subscribers as all administrative procedures already require photo ID. He said the regulation should be scrapped to reduce the administrative burden it places on the public.

By the end of March 2018, Vietnam has 118.7 million mobile subscriptions, according to official data.

At least 38 million mobile phone users have not provided adequate personal information to network providers, Nguyen Duc Trung, a senior telecommunications official at the Ministry of Information and Communications, said in a Tuoi Tre report.

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