Source: Vientiane Times
Vientiane’s Post and Telecommunications Department will appoint a special committee to trace illegal internet cafés in the capital after officials found some cafés operating without a licence as well as some open for online gaming and gambling or selling drugs.
A report on this issue was recently submitted during the Vientiane People’s Council Meeting.
The department also plans to limit the number of internet cafés by suspending permission to establish new outlets, transferring licences or renaming outlets. It will also not allow the extension of licences that expired more than a year ago or the shifting of existing internet cafés to new premises.
The owner of any internet café that has a business registration licence but is operating any illegal business will be warned, its fault recorded, its permission permanently or temporarily revoked and directed to pay a fine based on the circumstances of each case.
As of June, Vientiane had 397 internet cafés, of which 159 were monitored by the Post and Telecommunications sector in districts.
Vientiane’s Post and Telecommunications Department found some internet cafés were providing services that were different from those mentioned in their business licences. Some were allowing online gambling and others were selling gambling codes that buyers could use to access gambling websites and football gambling. Some cafes were allegedly being used by drug dealers to sell amphetamine pills.
In the first six months of the year, authorities carried out checks at 435 internet cafés in seven districts of Vientiane, including Xaythany, Sikhottabong, Hadxaifong, Chanthabouly and Sisattanak.
During these checks, it was found that only 40 cafés had complete business licences while 43 were ordered to close as they didn’t have licences. Authorities confiscated internet equipment from two cafés and educated the owners about the law. They also fined the owners of 327 cafés, while 23 cafés are working with authorities to resolve issues related to their operations.
According to the report, authorities faced challenges controlling internet cafés in Vientiane because there is no specific law on such establishments in the local service area. For instance, there is no set time for opening and closing such cafés and authorities have limited personnel to check outlets. This has resulted in some new cafés opening illegally.
Monitoring online gambling is a key issue for authorities because the websites offering these services are usually based in another country and their databases are overseas. This makes it difficult to control them but authorities are trying their best to block all such websites.