January 24, 2021

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Vietnam government issues spam prevention measures

The government has issued a decree on the prevention of spam messages, spam emails, and spam calls.  The decree figures out eight measures to prevent spam messages, spam emails, and spam calls:

  • Building anti-spam systems
  • Developing criteria to identify spam messages, spam emails, and spam calls
  • Monitoring and sharing information and databases on sources of spam
  • Collecting and handling complaints
  • Supervising advertising service provision via text messages, emails, and calls
  • Preventing, and revoking electronic addresses spreading spam messages, spam emails, and spam calls
  • Strengthening domestic coordination and international cooperation
  • Raising awareness of spam prevention

The Authority of Information Security under the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) is responsible for building and operating a system that collects spam complaints. Advertisers shall have to send a copy of each text message to the system once they send out to prospective customers. Users can complain by forwarding spam messages to the systems.

Firms providing Internet and telecommunication services shall have to comply with the MIC’s requirements on the prevention and handling of spam. The decree shall come into effect from 1 October.

Businesses in the fields of real estate, insurance, and education will bear the biggest influences from the newly released decree on preventing spam messages and calls. Mobile network operators have blocked spam messages with solutions using AI. Previously, mobile subscribers complained that they received tens of spam messages. But now they only receive several messages a week which invite them to use services.

However, after escaping spam messages, mobile phone subscribers have been bothered with spam calls. They receive many calls from the telesales staff at 9-10 am and 2 pm, which invite them to take life insurance policies, borrow money, buy real estate products, and register for English classes.

According to the deputy director of the MIC’s Department of Information Security, the decree for the first time defines a spam call. This is a call for advertisement purposes made without the prior consent of the recipients, or calls for advertisement purpose with prohibited content, violating regulations.

If mobile phone subscribers refuse advertisement calls, advertisers must stop immediately. The regulations not only protect subscribers from spam calls but also create favorable conditions for businesses and organisations to make advertisement calls legally.

According to the chair of the Telecommunication Digital Content Club, in the past, digital content firms sent messages themselves to invite subscribers to use services. However, in the last 2-3 years, they have had to do this through mobile network operators’ SMS systems. Mobile network operators only send messages to subscribers who accept advertisement messages. Therefore, the firms will bear little influence from the new decree.

He believes that if the decree is strictly observed, the businesses in the fields of real estate, insurance, and fintech will be affected the most. A new business model may arise, under which sale promotion programs would be organised to encourage clients to register to receive ad messages.

However, in the past, mobile network operators once donated data, money, and service fees to subscribers who accept ad messages, but only 30% of clients accepted the messages. A representative of a company that provides telesales platforms admitted that his company would be affected by the decree. However, he said the company anticipates the situation as similar policies are also applied in some countries, including the US.

Meanwhile, a representative of a real estate firm in Quang Ninh said the firm sells products through trading floors, not directly. The trading floors will contact clients via calls. The new decree will affect the floors and the company will have to find other sales methods.

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