If you have not taken a portrait photo for a while, you will soon have to, as your Vietnamese mobile phone carrier is likely to tell you that they want a picture of your face.
According to a government decree effective since April, mobile phone users will have to provide not only a scanned copy of their ID card but also a portrait photo to legally own a SIM card.
The regulation applies to both prepaid and postpaid subscribers of all Vietnamese mobile carriers, with the number of affected subscriptions estimated at nearly 120 million.
Mobile network operators have been given 12 months to ask all of their existing subscribers to add their portraits to the database.
The document also stipulates that users who fail to provide correct information will have their service terminated after 30 days from the first reminder by their network operator.
This will not be an easy task, and local subscribers have already expressed outrage at what they say is a completely absurd regulation.
Mobile carriers themselves have conceded that it is a challenge to encourage existing users to provide a portrait.
The current Vietnamese law on telecommunication stipulates that any individual must provide accurate personal information as per their ID card in order to register for a new SIM.
Foreign users are required to provide their passport to complete the registration.
“It’s easy to get a portrait of new users as we can install cameras at our offices to serve people when they come to register for a new SIM card,” a representative of a mobile carrier said.
He added that for existing users, the telecom company will “send SMS messages to inform them of the new regulation and ask them to come to their nearest transaction office to take a photo.”
According to the telecom department under the Ministry of Information and Communications, Vietnam had 119.77 million active mobile subscribers as of March 2017.
Many users and experts have told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that the portrait regulation is unnecessary and will waste the time of subscribers as well as the resources of mobile carriers.
Vu Hoang Lien, chairman of the Vietnam Internet Association, said even banks do not demand a portrait of their customers, so it is questionable whether the mobile carriers really need to do so.
From a customer’s perspective, Nhat Minh, one Ho Chi Minh City resident, said it would be a huge waste of time and a nuisance.
Minh is using three different SIM cards from three carriers, which means “I will have to waste three days taking portrait photos at each of the companies’ offices.”