Vietnam may restrict texting to 50 messages per day in bid to fight spam

By Anh Vu, Thanh Nien News

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Those who want to send more messages than the limit have to register or their numbers will be blocked. File photo Those who want to send more messages than the limit have to register or their numbers will be blocked. File photo

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The government’s new attempt to stop spam messages has received strong opposition from telecom companies as it plans to limit text messages sent from a single number to only 50 a day.
The Ministry of Information and Communication said under the newly proposed rule phone users are only allowed to send out 20 messages per hour and five messages every five minutes.
Those exceeding these limits will have their numbers blocked by mobile carriers.
The ministry introduced a rule last year which says that a phone number can send up to 30 messages a minute. But it said rampant advertising spam messages has prompted it to be stricter.
According to the ministry, Vietnam accounts for 5 percent of all spam messages in the world, ranking only after the US, China and Russia. 
It said any phone user who needs to send more messages than the new limits will have to go through some registration with their telecom firm. 
Telecom firms have protested the plan, saying that many of their young, student customers love texting and they can send 200 to 300 messages a day.
A representative of military-run Viettel, one of the top carriers in Vietnam, said the new rule will cause losses to telecom firms as customers will switch to online texting apps such as Viber and WhatsApp. 
The ministry has not said when the new rule will take effect. 
Who are the spammers?
Nguyen Thanh Hai, director of the Information Security Department at the ministry, said it set the limits after surveying the most active phone users across the country. 
Hai said it has also asked telecom firms to build technical barriers and block spam messages more effectively.
Vu Quoc Khanh, director of local cyber security organization VNCERT, said one of its surveys found that most of the spam was sent from the telecom firms themselves.
Another expert familiar with the matter said the telecom firms work with communication service providers and together they share the profits earned from the spam messages, with the bigger part of the income given to the telecom firms.
Khanh said the government can only solve the spam problem if it strictly controls the use of disposable phone numbers. 

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