Pokemon Go may be banned in Vietnam

VietNamNet Bridge – The Ministry of Information and Communications is considering the impact of Pokemon Go to society and may ban the game in Vietnam. 

Hunting Pokemon at night

Pokemon Go has attracted large numbers of players in Vietnam and many countries worldwide. But after a short time of being released in Vietnam, Pokemon Go’s impact is evident. 

Many people left home at night, crossed the road or drove on the street while their eyes were on phones to hunt Pokemon. Last Sunday night, HCM City police had to disperse a crowd at Tao Dan Park, who were there at 1am to catch Pokemon.

In some countries, Pokemon Go has been banned. Most governments have told their citizens to enhance safety for themselves and those around them while playing the game.

Vietnam is not an exception as many people have voiced their concern for problems originating from the craze for Pokemon Go. They worried about the safety of their children, and the risk of addiction to the game, along with the risk of robbery and accidents.

Mr. Le Quang Tu Do, Deputy Director of the MIC’s Radio, Television and Electronic Information Department told VietNamNet that the MIC is closely monitoring the effects of the game to people and society before considering the ban. 

"Pokemon Go has been in Vietnam in a relatively short time. Therefore, we still need more time to assess the impact of this game, especially the negative impact on society and gamers, especially young players. Thereby, the Ministry of Information and Communications will decide to ban the game or not. For now, the Ministry recommends people to beware of the game," he said.

"For Pokemon Go in particular and online games in general, both local and foreign game distributors must comply with the provisions of Vietnam law; otherwise we must take measures to protect players and build a healthy network environment," Do said.

Worldwide, the Iranian government and religious officials in Saudi Arabia have banned Pokemon Go as unsuitable for Muslim culture. Kuwait also banned people from playing Pokemon Go in government agencies while Russia and Egypt are actively calling on the government to ban the game.

Countries such as Israel, Indonesia, Thailand or Cambodia have asked soldiers to not play Pokemon Go and to prohibit people from gathering in several important areas.

On August 17, MIC issued a dispatch, recommending Pokemon Go players to follow five rules, one of them being not to play the game near the offices of the Part and State agencies, military and defence areas and prohibited zones.

The Ministry asked newspapers to widely reject recommendations to readers.

The Ministry also said it will ask Pokemon Go developers and owners to comply with Vietnamese law when promoting the wildly popular augmented reality game in the country.

The ministry also warned local players of safety issues, both online and in the real world.

Developed for smartphones by U.S. firm Niantic Labs in association with Japanese video game company Nintendo, Pokemon Go was released in a number of countries in July before being launched in Vietnam on August 6.

Since then, the game has become a phenomenon in the gaming community in Vietnam, especially young players, with hundreds of thousands of locals having downloaded the game from Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store.

According to the ministry, there are potential risks for players. As Pokemon Go’s servers and the headquarters of the developer are located abroad and the game is not yet licensed in Vietnam, players’ interests cannot be protected by law if disputes arise.

Players may also encounter data theft if they install a fake version of the game which contains malware. In fact, there are fake sites pretending to be those of Pokemon Go game providers.

Experts have also warned of traffic accidents or robberies in real life as many players are often distracted. Some players have been found entering restricted areas as well.

Therefore, the ministry suggested players follow safety rules when playing Pokemon Go. 

The ministry proposed players protect personal data, refrain from storing important and sensitive information on game-playing mobile devices, and avoid installing deceptive game-related apps.

It said players should not play the game when they are in heavy traffic or in dangerous areas such as railways, highways, airports, rivers, lakes, hills and mountains; and should not play near or in State-controlled areas, military zones, places of national security importance and restricted zones.

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Nam Nguyen

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