Data in the digital era has become an increasingly important resource for economic activities besides land, human resources, and energy from fossil fuel.
Like other developed nations, Vietnam is paying more and more attention to exploit this valuable resource while securing it effectively for sustainable socio-economic development.
|Students of Tran Dai Nghia School are accessing the school’s materials on the Internet. (Photo: SGGP)|
Reports from the Institute for Policy Studies and Media Development (under Vietnam Digital Communications Association) reveal that user databases have become an utterly precious resource which is highly profitable to the digital economy.
It is even considered the ‘new gold’ of the time, as said by World Bank Country Director for Vietnam Carolyn Turk, when she mentioned the need to invest in data.
Sadly, data existing nowadays on the Internet from around 11 billion electronic devices can be easily stolen although some of them is managed by giant prestigious technological companies like Facebook or Google.
In March 2020, a hacker went online to boast about owning a database of 41 million Vietnamese Facebook accounts (past schools and workplaces, addresses, full names, and Facebook ID). Not long after that, on Raid Forum, a file with confidential information of over 163 million Zing ID accounts was uploaded for free. This was a wake-up call for the community about weaknesses in data security.
To make matter worse, the incident of over 500,000 Zoom accounts, including Vietnamese ones, being sold openly on the Internet in April 2020 truly makes people feel anxious.
It seems that the illegal activity of selling sensitive information online, be it related to state units (police force, national defense, tax) or in the economic sector (bank accounts, insurance, business registration documents) and the education field (parents, teachers, students), has been out of control in Vietnam.
Yet until now, in Vietnam, there has been almost no case of a business being blamed for information leak, accidentally or not.
In addition, punishments for these cases, if applicable, is not harsh enough, said Director of CyRadar Cyber Security Co. Nguyen Minh Duc.
He cited the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of EU, effective as of 2018, saying that any business losing its control over its client information due to unexpected incidents or weak management, has to be fined up to 4 percent of its global annual revenue.
There is no such policy in Vietnam, where 60 percent of its population uses the Internet every day. Their personal information might be stolen at any moment.
Another point worth mentioning is the method to exploit user data effectively.
In 2019, 45.3 million people in Vietnam accessed Facebook, making it a lucrative marketing channel. However, the country receives no profit at all from this digital economic sector. Obviously, only giant technological enterprises like FPT, VNG, VCCorporation, Vietcombank, Vietnam Airlines consider making use of these data or the Big Data technology to develop their strategic growth plan.
Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Thanh Hung stated that forming an e-government and later a digital government, along with the digital economy, is an unavoidable trend in Vietnam. And one of the most essential factors of the digital economy is data, which is labeled as its ‘fuel’.
Undoubtedly, the tasks of creating, storing, handling, and sharing data properly, smoothly, and securely is critical to any nation in order to ensure a high-quality service from the Government to both businesses and citizens.
Lawyer Nguyen Tien Lap from the Institute for Policy Studies and Media Development said that the most challenging task at the moment is to clearly identify if personal data belong to that person or not, whether it is considered a personality right or property right. Since these data possess very high risks and is normally the target of hackers, does protecting them contrast with ensuring public security?
Therefore, in order to transfer to the digital economy successfully, it is necessary to prepare suitable laws to guard personal data and personality right.
Deputy Director of Oxfam Vietnam Pham Quang Tu also shared that Vietnam needs a legal frame to protect confidential data and the right to privacy to ensure the smooth operation of the digital economy, which bases on databases. This frame needs to allow people to file a lawsuit if they think their personal data and privacy is violated. Meanwhile, non-profit organizations should help citizens in this process if needed. SGGP
Creating ‘digital trust’ with Make in Vietnam open-technology products
Vietnam has become one of the first countries in the world commercializing 5G on a trial basis. Software engineers have made a great contribution to the achievement as Vietnam’s 5G network will use open standards.
Developing national information systems with open technology is the key to creating digital trust.
With Make in Vietnam 5G equipment and terminals, Vietnam can master the major elements of a 5G ecosystem, which is important for 5G to be implemented by this year end.
Vietnam ranks 20th in open source software application
The Sysnopsy’s Open Source Security and Risk Analysis Report 2020 report showed that an audit of 1,260 closed software source codebases in 17 industries found that 99 percent of codebases contained open source components. All codebases in 9 out of 17 industries contain open source components.
Up to 70 percent of source codes in codebases are open source codes. The figure is twice as much as in 2015 (36 percent). Ninety percent of codebases since 2019 contain open source components.
According to Sysnopsys, there are 445 open source components in each codebase. More than 90 percent of IT firms use open source software for important apps.
A report from GitHub said that Vietnam ranks 20th among non-US countries and territories in utilizing open source codes. In Southeast Asia, Vietnam ranks third, behind Singapore and Indonesia.
However, when considering the proportion, Vietnam is far behind China, India, Germany, the UK and Japan. It is on the same par with Taiwan, Singapore and Indonesia.
The growth rate of open source projects and the contribution to open source codes in Vietnam remain modest.
Though Vietnam began approaching the open source trend in the 2000s, its open technology growth rate has been slower than some other countries. This is attributed to a closed culture mechanism, localization in data protection and management, and the lack of interest from large corporations.
The main cause is that Vietnam doesn’t have a technology development tradition, because the economy is at a fairly average level, with the science and technology level still low. Vietnam has few scientific and technological inventions and patents.
Using open technology is the only way for Vietnam to master technologies, catch up with the world, and become an IT powerhouse.
Mastering open technology
Developing open technology, open source software, and opening data to businesses and individuals to create new value is the new orientation.
|A report from GitHub said that Vietnam ranks 20th among non-US countries and territories in utilizing open source codes. In Southeast Asia, Vietnam ranks third, behind Singapore and Indonesia.|
This was confirmed by the head of the Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) Nguyen Manh Hung at Vietnam Open Summit 2020. The event was organized to show Vietnam’s strategy and action plan on developing and mastering digital technology with open standards.
Vietnam’s open technology development in the time to come will focus on three pillars, namely the Make in Vietnam open ecosystem, open culture promotion, and open community development.
Vietnam has recently made significant investments to develop open technologies. The introduction of apps, including Bluezone and CoMeet, is evidence.
Developed on the open source code basis, users and more than 100 IT engineers contributed to the development of Bluezone. Thanks to the open source code, the app tracking suspected Covid-19 infections won people’s confidence, with more than 22 million downloads.
Viettel, BKAV and CMC are the technology firms leading open technology development.
Nguyen Tu Quang, CEO of BKAV, said the corporation began investing in AI camera some years ago. In 2018, BKAV set up AI Institute as it realized the big potential of AI application.
The corporation last November exported the first AI cameras to be installed at the head office of Qualcomm in San Diego, California.
At Qualcomm, the cameras from Vietnam will be an important element of the group’s smart city development strategy.
The AI View cameras manufactured by BKAV are developed with Open AI View. The use of an open platform helps to gain confidence from international partners.
As for CMC, the group chose OpenStack to build CMC Open Cloud and Elastic Stack to create SOC. These are all open source codes available on GitHub.
Luong Tuan Thanh, chief technology officer of CMC Group, said with the development of products with open source codes, all the expenses related to software copyright will be used to develop human resources. CMC is following this path to develop its specialists and build an open culture.
Viettel, the mobile network operator, chose to master 5G technology based on OpenRAN. This was a daring move compared with the use of the traditional Radio Access Network. By doing so, Viettel can escape reliance on foreign equipment suppliers.
Mekong Delta faces decline in wild birds, fish and plants
The number of species of wild birds, fish, and plants in the Mekong Delta has fallen rapidly in recent years because of a decline in food resources and natural habitats.
Birds in Tram Chim National Park in Dong Thap province
In Tram Chim National Park in Dong Thap province, 13 bird species are in danger of extinction and need protection, according to park authorities.
The species include red-headed cranes, white- winged ducks, yellow-breasted buntings, common kestrels, eastern grass owls, eastern marsh-harriers, spot billed pelicans and painted storks.
The number of red-headed cranes returning to the park fell from more than 1,000 in 1988 to nine in 2019, and none this year. This was partly due to a decline in areas of grass which provide food for the bird, which are the symbol of the park.
The park, which covers an area of more than 7,300ha and contains mostly cajuput trees, is a Ramsar wetlands site of international importance.
The park has about 800ha of lua ma, which can be translated as ‘ghost rice’ (Oryza rufipogon) for its ability to survive flooding. The rice variety has genes which scientists use to create new rice varieties as the rice can grow in alum-affected soil and is highly resistant to diseases transmitted by brown planthoppers and white-backed planthoppers, and can grow in deep floodwater.
In the past, lua ma grew wildly in the delta’s flooded areas during the flooding season, but the rice variety now exists in only a few places in the delta, including in the park.
In An Giang and Dong Thap, the number of basa catfish fish in the wild has become scarce because of the low level of floods caused by the rising level of the Mekong River in the rainy season.
In Cà Mau province, which is the country’s largest shrimp producer, the number of wild birds has declined significantly in recent years because of hunters and fewer rice fields.
Overhunting has also led to the decline in wild birds, according to experts.
To preserve endangered fauna and flora species, local authorities in the delta have focused on preserving wetland areas and forests to provide natural habitats for birds, fish and plants.
In Ca Mau, authorities are implementing a plan to develop the Ca Mau City bird garden located in the Ho Chi Minh President monument area in the 2018-20 period.
They have planted more trees to provide a better habitat for birds, upgraded water ditches in the garden to supply clean water for birds, and solved pollution caused by bird waste.
The 3.1ha garden has about 53 species and 6,600 birds. The number of wild birds at the garden can reach more than 12,000 in the peak reproductive season in June and December.
In Dong Thap, local authorities are preserving three wetland areas – Tram Chim National Park, the 279ha Go Thap Relic Area in Thap Muoi district, and the 63ha Xeo Quyt Relic Area in Cao Lanh district.
Every year, the three wetland areas, in cooperation with the province’s Forest Protection Sub- department, devise plans to protect their biodiversity.
Since 2016, the sub-department, in cooperation with the people’s committees of communes where there are wetland areas and forests, has organised 40 courses for 2,000 residents about legal regulations that protect forests, biodiversity and wild animals.
It has also given local people 1,650 booklets and 19,000 leaflets about protection of wild animals in the forests.
The Tram Chim National Park is taking steps to preserve the wetland ecosystem and the genes of flora and fauna species, especially endangered birds like the red-headed crane and white-winged duck.
The park has more than 130 flora species, 129 freshwater fish species, 198 water birds, and 29 amphibian species./.VNS
Few construction works are green
Only 155 construction works have been certified as green as of Q3 2020, according to IFC, a modest number compared with other Southeast Asian countries and the rest of the world.
Realizing the high demand for green construction, especially green high-rises, many real estate developers are advertising that their products are green to boost sales.
“Green’, ‘natural’ and ‘ecological’ are the words most seen in advertisements run by developers when opening new products for sale. The images of green trees, green space and green life are used in sales designs. However, the advertisements and reality are quite different.
However, it is true that construction firms have changed their development strategies, striving to launch products with ‘green elements’ and energy efficiency.
The demonstration projects of UNDP on technical solutions to minimize energy consumption in newly built and improved works show that the energy saving levels could be 25-67 percent per work, and the cost is higher by 0-3 percent and maximum capital recovery 5 years.
However, according to IFC, as of the third quarter, Vietnam had only 155 construction works officially certified as green.
The problem is that when developing a green construction building, businesses have to pay additional costs of 10-15 percent.
Some analysts say that the additional 10-15 percent cost is inconsiderable for high-end works and is acceptable for developers. However, 10 percent is high for common houses compared with the average income of Vietnamese.
Speaking about the green trend at an annual real estate forum, Nguyen Cong Thinh, deputy director of the Science, Technology and the Environment Department under the Ministry of Construction (MOC), said that despite clear economic benefits in energy consumption and environment, not many real estate developers have certificates for green works.
Thinh attributes this to insufficient regulations related to management, support and encouragement to develop green works. There are not regulations requiring construction work owners to make an investment and run works in accordance with green standards.
Meanwhile, the experience of investors, consultants and contractors in green work design and construction remains modest. Besides, banks and financial institutions are not enthusiastic about funding green works.
MOC and UNDP are organizing Vietnam Green Work Week 2020, which will gather speakers from ministries and branches, international and domestic experts, and technological solution and material suppliers.
According to MOC, the government has committed to a 9 percent reduction in total greenhouse gas emissions compared with normal development and increase the contribution to 27 percent if there is international support by 2030, as updated by NDC (nationally determined contributions).
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