National sovereignty on Internet neglected?

VietNamNet Bridge – Foreign firms have been providing voice and SMS services on Vietnam’s broadband infrastructure, while they do not bear any Vietnamese legal constrains. This means that the issue of the national sovereignty on Internet has been neglected.

national sovereignty, internet

According to a senior executive of a big mobile network operator, the current laws clearly stipulate the issues relating to the national sovereignty on telecommunication networks.

For example, in a submarine cable network connection, the current laws clearly point out which areas and which places international partners can reach to.

However, the problem now is that the world has shifted from the pure business environment to the broadband network on Internet, where the concept of “boundary” no longer exists.

Also according to the executive, foreign OTT enterprises (over the top) such as Viber and Line have been providing similar services like Vietnamese telecom network operators (providing voice and SMS services), while they have not been put under the management of the Vietnamese agencies.

Therefore, he has expressed the worries about the country’s sovereignty, sovereign interests on Internet, as well as the worries about the national security.

“While Vietnamese enterprises have to pay tax and fulfill a lot of duties, foreign ones don’t have to, which means the unfairness in doing business. This should be seen as the factor that threatens the development of domestic businesses and the sovereign security,” he said.

Nguyen Minh Duc from BKAV, the best-known Internet security firm, has noted that the biggest danger comes from the Vietnamese people’s low awareness of the information security when using OTT apps.

When choosing services to use, the majority of Vietnamese don’t take care much about the information security feature of the services, while they only learn to know if the features are “hot,” the services are “free.” In many cases, they are willing to download the software pieces available at the app stores, while they do not read the requirements by the service providers on information exposition.

As for Viber, for example, the provisions on protecting users’ privacy show that when logging on, all the information in the users’ phone books would be uploaded to Viber’s server.

As for WeChat, the service provider states that it would provide the information about the users to the third parties when it is required.

Duc said that to date, no case of personal data exposition or no case of information leaking from using OTT services have been reported so far in Vietnam. However, he said the information security risks have been existing.

Experts have urged the watchdog agencies to set up the legal provisions to tighten the control over the use of OTT apps to protect the country’s sovereignty, saying that other countries in the world all have forced foreign OTT to obey their strict management regulations.

The French telecom management agency Arcep has recently requested the Paris Prosecution Agency to investigate Skype, with an aim to requite the OTT service provider to make a claim that it is a telecommunication operator.

Skype is an online telecommunication service provided on the OTT platform, which means it uses the content and the broadband of telecom networks to provide VoIP services (voice over the Internet Protocol).

Saudi Arabia has stopped Viber’s operation because the service provider did not strictly follow the regulations set up by the country. Since June 5, the users in the country could not access Viber on any devices, including computers.

Buu Dien

national sovereignty, internet