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Whether arbitrarily using someone else’s phone number information is illegal in Vietnam

Phone number is one of the basic personal data regulated by the law on personal data protection. The introduction of Decree 13/2023/ND-CP has created a new, stricter mechanism for controlling the use of personal data in Vietnam today. Recently, we have received many questions from customers about whether arbitrarily using someone else’s phone number information is illegal in Vietnam. In the following article, Viet An Law will inform you about this content.

Legal basis

  • Civil Code 2015.
  • Decree 13/2023/ND-CP on personal data protection.
  • Decree 144/2021/ND-CP on administrative penalties for violations against regulations on social safety, security, order; social evils, fire prevention and firefighting; rescue; domestic violence prevention and control.
  • Decree 15/2020/ND-CP on penalties for administrative violations against regulations on postal services, telecommunications, radio frequencies, information technology, and electronic transactions.

Personal phone numbers are protected data according to law

Previously, the law only focused on acts of exploiting data transmitted via mobile and telephone networks, such as protecting the confidentiality or security of mail, telephone, telegram, or other forms of exchange. other people’s private information; Anti-spam and spam messages. So is the phone number, the first basic information to form the above data, protected? Is it illegal for a person to arbitrarily use another person’s phone number information?

According to the provisions of the Civil Code 2015, phone numbers can be considered confidential personal data that is inviolable and protected by law. If considered so, Article 38 of the Civil Code requires that the person who collects, stores, uses, and publicizes personal phone numbers must obtain the consent of the owner of that phone number. However, it can be seen that by 2023, decrees in the fields of telecommunications, postal services, culture, etc. have never mentioned the act of arbitrarily using other people’s phone number information, nor have they ever mentioned the act of arbitrarily using other people’s phone number information. refers to the phone number as personal confidential data. In fact, phone numbers are publicly available, traded, and exchanged like normal data without any restriction. Thus, phone numbers – a basic type of data identified by each individual, do not have a protection mechanism.

The regulations of the newly released Decree 13/2023/ND-CP are considered to be quite updated with current laws on personal data protection in the UK and the US. Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), phone number If there is a personal data breach, the data owner must report it to the UK Personal Data Regulator (ICO) within 72 hours of becoming aware of the breach. This mechanism is also regulated in Decree 13/2023/ND-CP.

The most important principle in Decree 13/2023/ND-CP is that organizations and individuals must collect personal data under the principle of mandatory consumer consent. This means that before collecting personal information, the data owner must have explicit consent from the owner of the personal information, specifically the phone number.

Regulations on protecting personal phone numbers according to Vietnamese law

Rights of phone number owner

The Decree on Personal Data Protection clearly states consumers’ rights to control their personal information. Consumers have the right to access, amend, delete, or suspend the processing of their personal information.

Obligations of data processors

Data security and protection: organizations or individuals collecting personal data must take appropriate security measures to ensure the safety of personal information. This includes preventing unauthorized access, and information leakage, and protecting data from loss or damage.

Reporting breaches: organizations or individuals collecting personal data must report personal data breaches to state regulatory agencies and consumers in case personal data is exposed or misused.

Phone number management: Organizations that collect phone numbers must comply with regulations on security and customer phone number management to ensure the protection of personal data.

Whether arbitrarily using someone else’s phone number information is illegal in Vietnam

Because phone numbers are protected as personal data, any act of using another person’s phone number or recording another person’s phone number in the information declaration without the consent of the phone number owner is calling is a violation of the law on personal data protection.

For example, in the case of declaring another person’s personal phone number in a loan contract with a bank without the consent of the owner of that phone number, the bank uses the above phone number to perform the transaction. debt collection procedures when the borrower cannot be contacted. In this case, the declarant and the bank using that phone number may be subject to civil, administrative, and criminal liability (depending on the behavior and extent of infringement of the rights of the phone number owner) for acts committed against the owner of the disturbed phone number. This is a real situation where a customer has contacted Viet An Law. Being bothered, even threatened, affects the psychology of the owner of the violated phone number, which is clearly an infringement of the law on personal data protection according to current regulations.

To expand, in practice during the process of entering into contracts and agreements that use the phone numbers of the parties, the other party is now implicitly obliged, without needing an agreement, to keep it confidential. and must not disclose phone number information that they learned during the process of establishing and implementing the contract. This obligation is only waived when the parties have otherwise agreed, or in other words, there is the express consent of the personal information owner to disclose phone number information to third parties.

Acts of infringing on personal phone number data may be subject to administrative or criminal sanctions depending on the severity of the infringement. Specifically:

Administrative liability

Because Decree 13/2023/ND-CP has just been issued, up to now, Vietnamese law still has no legal documents regulating administrative sanctions for acts considered to violate this Decree.

In fact, Vietnam only has a few regulations on administrative sanctions related to this content, such as Decree 144/2021/ND-CP on administrative penalties for violations against regulations on social safety, security, order; social evils, fire prevention and firefighting; rescue; domestic violence prevention and control, stipulates:

  • In Article 22: Fine from 10,000,000 VND to 20,000,000 VND for the act of “Intentionally revealing confidential citizen information in the National Population Database, Residence Database, Citizen identification database”. Remedial measures: Forced to return illegal profits obtained from the violation.
  • In Article 54: Fine from 10,000,000 VND to 20,000,000 VND for the act of “Disclosing or distributing documents and materials belonging to the private life secrets of family members to offend honor and dignity”. In addition, remedial measures include:
    • Forced to apologize publicly when the victim requests;
    • Forced revocation of disclosed or distributed information.

Or in Article 102 of Decree 15/2020/ND-CP on penalties for administrative violations against regulations on postal services, telecommunications, radio frequencies, information technology, and electronic transactions:

  • Fine from 5,000,000 VND to 10,000,000 VND for the act of “Providing or using personal information when there has been a request to cancel by the owner of that information”.
  • Fine from 10,000,000 VND to 20,000,000 VND for one of the following acts:
    • Illegally accessing, using, disclosing, interrupting, modifying or destroying information and information systems;
    • Collect, process, and use information of other organizations and individuals without consent or for wrong purposes as prescribed by law;
    • Providing, exchanging, transmitting or storing, or using digital information to threaten, harass, distort, slander, or insult the reputation of the organization, the honor, dignity, and reputation of others;

However, it can be seen that the administrative sanctions regulations are only related to, but do not directly mention, the handling of information that is personal phone numbers. Therefore, in practice, it is difficult to apply.

Civil liability

Thus, current subjects can mainly rely on civil law mechanisms to protect their rights when personal phone number information is violated. However, this civil mechanism often requires consequences and actual damages, from which there is a basis to sue, compensate for property, morale, or other remedies.

Criminal liability

According to the provisions of Article 159 of the Criminal Code 2015 of infringing on the confidentiality or security of mail, telephone, and telegrams, the act of infringing on personal phone number data has not been administratively handled but is still a violation. will be subject to a warning, a fine from VND 20,000,000 to VND 50,000,000, or non-custodial reform for up to 03 years. If the act has the following aggravating circumstances, it can be punished with imprisonment from 01 year to 03 years:

  • Organizing;
  • Abusing positions and powers;
  • Committing the crime 2 times or more;
  • Disclosing information that has been appropriated and affects the honor, reputation, and dignity of others;
  • Make the victim commit suicide.

In addition, as an additional penalty, the offender may also be fined from 5,000,000 VND to 20,000,000 VND, and banned from holding certain positions for 01 to 05 years.

Above is Viet An Law’s advice on the question of whether arbitrarily using someone else’s phone number information is illegal in Vietnam. If you require advice related to civil cases or civil law, please contact Viet An Law for the best advice.

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