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VietNamNews

Mobile phone traffic plan raises concerns

Update: March, 27/2015 - 08:41

Last week, Viet Nam News asked readers if a new traffic control project that gathers data from drivers' mobile phones poses a threat to their privacy rights.

Here are some of the replies:

Pham Hong Anh, Ha Noi

People in modern society can easily object to Government policies they consider a threat to their privacy. This trend is stronger in democratic states, where people are empowered with individual freedom and privacy rights.

Yet sometimes, we ourselves simply allow that privacy to be taken away, given that today's smart phones are giant repositories of private information and can serve as tracking devices as well.

We can freely integrate our mobile phones with traffic applications, allowing them to access all our personal information, including name, date-of-birth, address, phone numbers, e-mail, etc. as long as the information does not fall into the wrong hands.

I think it does not hurt if we let the traffic app collect data on location or speed. It's like we use the Nike app that tracks our running/jogging route and speed, or Facebook to load our exact location to check-in.

But how the officials will use those data is the key point. For improving the terrible urban traffic situation, that's fine, yet for other surveillance reasons, it becomes a different story.

However, I guess each and every citizen living in this digital era should learn the fact that we cannot preserve absolute privacy, no matter what the Government promises. That just the way it is.

Pham Duy Anh, Ha Noi

If this project is implemented, I am afraid it will not work. I do not agree that all data on the places I go and how long I spend there is recorded and sent to the authorities. I also do not agree that my daily routines and habits can also be easily deducted from my travelling information.

We do not know what kind of information and data will be sent to the authorities apart from the numbers showing our locations and the vehicles' speed. It might easily be the phone's user account, which is now already required to be registered with all network service providers like Viettel or Mobifone.

All phone users in Viet Nam are familiar with the flush of "trash texts", or the spam messages sent all over to their phones. Although it hasn't been proved, many believe that they have to endure the load of spam because their network providers have given their phone numbers to others, particularly advertising companies.

With such neglect of users' privacy, am I supposed to believe that other private information of mine will be safe and known only to me when the so-called traffic control project starts?

I also wonder how the authorities filter the data for traffic control when I have as many as two mobile phones and tablets that are all installed with SIM cards and the app.

Instead of carrying out a traffic monitoring project that has no clear plan to secure the data, it would be better to renovate or expand streets for better traffic flow.

Bui Thu Ha, Vietnamese, HCM City

Traffic problems are always of concern to citizens. On March 16, the National Traffic Safety Committee introduced its latest plan to get specific information about traffic from drivers' smart phones.

Although some people believe the new plan will help monitor and adjust traffic more effectively, and perhaps help forecast and design future traffic projects, others, like me, consider it a threat to personal privacy.

Most people are wary about allowing access to anything relating to or containing their personal information, especially their mobile phones. Even when officials make assurances that the data collected is only traffic-related, people don't want to take the risk.

If secrets are somehow revealed, is anyone prepared to accept responsibility? But nothing can be done if someone has already lost their reputation or self-esteem.

Collecting data is made easier by using modern technologies. There are no guarantees that hackers and others using the Internet and computers won't illegally hunt down information. Hackers can also invade official systems to get data on people and use it to make profit.

I don't think the mobile plan is feasible because when people suspect that it could be mis-used, they will not participate. In addition, the plan could be a waste of money because so much has to be spent on buying and installing modern technologies. We already have police who monitor traffic flows and adjust traffic lights by remote control.We should use the money for some more practical purpose.

Shihara Maduwage, Sri Lankan, Colombo

If the data is transferred to the network service providers firstly before being sent to police, it would be a violation of privacy. And dangerous too, because if a stalker or a serial killer gets their hands on the information, it could put someone's life in danger.

I think the better way is for police to get the information directly or have security in place so that no unauthorised person can access the data or leak the information to other sources.

I believe this project would make roads safer because it would be easier to track down vehicles that have violated road rules.

Also I think it would make it much easier for police to respond to accidents, emergencies and distress calls because they could locate vehicles much more easily. — VNS

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