Some countries are calling for the internet to be brought under the control of the UN International Telecommunications Regulations, but experts warn that a more tightly regulated regime could have a significant and detrimental impact on Asian countries, including Vietnam.
The 2012 World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), to be held in Dubai on December 3-14, is slated to discuss the future of internet regulation, and Vietnam will participate in this event.
According to the chair of the ad hoc WCIT working group, Ambassador David A. Gross, increased regulation of the internet should be troubling to both governments and the private sector since it would threaten the innovation and commercial flexibility that has allowed the telecommunications sector to flourish in such countries as Vietnam, Indonesia and Singapore.
"Increased regulation threatens successes that liberalization and competition have enjoyed in recent years [and] could have adverse impacts on commercial businesses involved in international telecommunications and slow the dramatic growth of ICT revenue and e-commerce in developing nations," Gross said in Bangkok.
According to Ministry of Information and Communications, internet penetration in Vietnam now reaches 30 million people, representing a third of the country's population. Internet use in Vietnam has recorded the most rapid growth in Asia, with an average annual rate of 20 per cent from 2000to 2010.
Meanwhile, while e-commerce currently accounts for just 2.5 per cent of national GDP, online payment transactions are estimated to reach US$6 billion by 2015.
The Vietnamese Government is currently drafting a new decree on the management of internet services and electronic information on the internet, which would replace Decree No 97/2008/ND-CP of August 2008.
The draft decree would require foreign internet service providers to set up primary servers and representative offices in Vietnam, or appoint a Vietnamese individual or institution to represent them. It would require internet users to use their real names when using services and would include other regulations on internet content.
The draft has attracted opposing viewpoints from the public and the business community, but Government officials have said that the new decree would be necessary to keep up with the internet's rapid development in Vietnam and to help stabilize the socio-economic situation.