Vietnam's telecommunication ministry is drafting a bill to bring providers of Internet call and messaging apps under some government control.
Under the bill, over-the-top (OTT) apps that collect fees from Vietnamese users, such as Viber, Line, Skype and WhatsApp will be required to install servers in Vietnam or sign commercial deals with a local telecommunication companies that are licensed to providing such apps, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reported Thursday.
Although Viber-to-Viber calls are all free, the app charges users for making domestic and international calls to non-Viber numbers at local rates through Viber Out.
The WhatsApp messaging app charges an annual US$0.99 fee from the second year of use and LINE charges for extra services such as stickers and themes.
The bill will also require local providers of OTT apps, which are not linked to traditional telecom or Internet service providers but operate atop established Internet connections, to obtain a license if the apps come with a fee.
Although providers of completely free apps do not need a license, they will have to submit the location of their headquarters and servers along with any and all domain names to the government if the app accrues more than one million users, the bill said.
The bill would also prohibit OTT apps from using Vietnam's internet infrastructure to connect phone calls between app users and local phone numbers.