Privacy: WAY out of our hands

Vietnam immigration

My nephew, planning an extended jaunt through Vietnam, applied for a visa. What he received horrified him. A bilingual letter authorized his entry and instructed him to pick up his visa upon arrival at Da Nang International Airport.

My nephew’s name was on an attached list, among a dozen other citizens of the world, displaying each person’s full name, date of birth, nationality, and passport number.

Is this the standard practice of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam? Group visa approvals of unrelated travelers… Information-sharing on a broad and arbitrary scale.

My outraged nephew said he would not have visited Vietnam if he’d known how visas were issued. I’ve blurred the data, but here’s what the list looked like:

Vietnam visa

© Copyright 2008-2010 Bambi Vincent. All rights reserved.

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  • February 28, 2011


    That’s a new one.. I wonder if any other country does this.

  • February 28, 2011

    Mark Sowul

    Don’t “blur” it out, especially so poorly: cover it with black. That data is still very readable and what was a breach confined to your letter is now on the internet.

  • March 1, 2011


    It’s not that Nicholas would never have visited Vietnam if he had known about the Visa, he would have used a different method of obtaining his Visa such as the mail in Visa services.

  • March 2, 2011


    We need to contain Vietnam’s reprehensible privacy practices before, like a domino, it perpetuates those practices throughout the rest of Asia and, eventually, throughout the West. Although the threat posed by Vietnam’s privacy practices can be contained only by combat operations, such operations will most assuredly be modest in scope.

  • March 4, 2011

    Bruce Marshall

    @Matthew – I agree! The privacy of many countries will be threatened if the red tide of sloppy paperwork overflows into Vietnam.

  • August 13, 2012


    I don’t see a huge deal here. The info is visible to arbitrary strangers who’d have no use for your DOB/passport number. I can get the same info info while queuing in immigration or from two people next to me on the plane filling out arrival forms.

    No well-designed system would let people do much with that info. What can they actually do, book an airline ticket with your passenger details and fail to board once they show up at the airport?

  • October 5, 2012

    Tom Hunter

    In maybe 95% of all cases that may be true. However, that data is connected to more sensitive data somewhere. Whether it is somewhere in Vietnam or at the US State Department, someone searching for it on one poorly-designed database could potentially expose everything.

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