Weeks after moving to limit the type of content its citizens can share online, Vietnam is being tipped to enact further regulation of its tech industry with a ban on messaging apps like Viber, WhatsApp, Line and WeChat.
Reuters reports that the government is assessing whether to ban apps, in a move that would protect mobile operators from ‘losing’ voice and SMS revenue to the free services. One telco official quoted estimated that his firm’s revenue could be cut in half if its 40 million customers all adopted such apps.
This protectionist thinking runs counter to a new approach that many operators are taking by partnering with WhatsApp and its ilk. Special chat app packages are seen as a middle ground to encourage customers onto mobile data plans, whilst generating some revenue and developing a competitive advantage — not in Vietnam, it seems.
Update: Now with corrected Reuters link
Update: Turns out this is all a bit overblown. As Tech in Asia reports, a complete reading of the source document shows that Vietnam’s Ministry of Information Technology merely acknowledges the existence of OTT messaging apps and, and states that it hopes it can find mutually beneficial solutions for telecoms and the apps. This more nuanced reading leads one to believe that while regulation might be a possibility down the road, for now, fears of a “ban” are entirely misguided.
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