New Vietnam law on ad spam unlikely to succeed: experts

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The Vietnamese government has  issued a decree tightening current regulations on spamming, but experts say it lacks teeth.

Under the decree, which takes effect on January 1 next year, advertisers must stop sending advertising SMS and mails to people "immediately" after receiving the latter's rejection, instead of the current 24 hours.

They are also required to send back confirmation of receipt of messages to the people who have chosen not to receive further solicitations or information from the advertisers.

Even when people do not send refusal messages, advertisers are not allowed to send one message or email with the same content to one phone number or one email address more than once within 24 hours, under the new regulations.

A copy of any advertising mail and SMS sent out must also be sent to the Ministry of Information and Communications' designated server.

The decree says violators can be suspended from SMS and email advertisement activities for between one and three months, or even permanently.

Advertisers now can send up to five text messages and emails to one phone number and one email address within 24 hours.

The new decree aims to supplement current regulations in tackling rampant advertisement spamming in Vietnam.

However, some experts do not think the decree will make much of a difference, Tuoi Tre reported Thursday.

Speaking to the newspaper, Le Manh Hung, vice chairman of the Club for Vietnamese Game and Digital Content Businesses, said it was not easy to ask advertisers to stop spamming after receiving refusal messages from email and mobile phone users.

In fact, while users can "immediately" text refusal messages, it was "a long story" on the side of advertisers, Hung said. For this or that reason, message delivery could be delayed or fail, he said, adding that there is also a chance that advertisers pretend to not receive them.

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This "vague" regulation could prove be a loophole for advertisers to take advantage of, he said.

Meanwhile, other experts were skeptical about the regulation asking advertisers to use specific numbers for advertisements provided by mobile network operators to send SMS ads.

Tuoi Tre quoted the representatives of network operators as saying advertisers almost always use activated prepaid SIM cards which are considered "junk SIM" in Vietnam for spamming.

Junk SIM cards are ubiquitous here, as local authorities have yet to successfully manage prepaid subscribers, experts said. Therefore, related agencies will not be able to trace violating advertisers via phone numbers they used for spamming, they said.

Moreover, mobile network operators are also sending advertisements,  so people, despite being disturbed by spam, choose to not refuse them as they want to receive messages regarding mobile phone service discounts.

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