Over a year since the coup that brought Myanmar back under military dictatorship, the country continues to face serious digital threats and numerous human rights violations. The ongoing push to enact a draconian cybersecurity bill and the sale of Telenor’s Myanmar telecom unit to a military-linked company are just some of the developments fuelling fears of further digital oppression in the country.
In this episode of Pretty Good Podcast, Asia-Pacific analyst and Access Now’s Myanmar lead Wai Phyo Myint elaborates on how these developments are affecting the efforts of Myanmar’s resilient digital rights actors, individuals, and organisations to restore democracy in the country. She also shares concrete ways that the international community can continue to or update their support for changemakers.
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- Wai Phyo Myint is the Asia-Pacific analyst and Myanmar Lead of Access Now, an organisation that aims to defend and extend the digital rights of users at risk around the world. Access Now has written numerous pieces on Myanmar’s “digital coup” here.
- On February 1, 2021, the military took control of the country by assuming the role of State Administration Council. Since then, the junta has
- Imposed multiple internet shutdowns, attempted to install and activate interception technology, and conducted widespread monitoring and seizure of bank accounts and transactions supporting the Civil Disobedience Movement and other revolutionary movements.
- Pushed to revise a draconian cybersecurity bill first drafted in February 2021. The new version by the military adds even more stifling regulations, including criminalising the use of virtual private networks, regulating social media, and giving authorities full access to people’s personal information with no data protection rights. The bill also contains vague provisions on administrative sanctions for digital businesses.
- To learn more about the digital coup and its timeline, head over to https://myanmarinternet.info/
- On top of these developments, Norwegian multinational telecom company Telenor courted controversy over reports that it was selling its Myanmar unit to a company with the military-linked Shwe Byain Phyu Group as the majority shareholder. According to Wai Phyo and other civil society groups, the deal could put the data of 18 million users at risk. As of posting, the sale has already been completed.
- In this episode, Wai Phyo emphasises concrete ways on how the international community can support Myanmar’s ongoing resistance against the military dictatorship. Among these actions, which can also be found on Access Now’s website, are:
- Provide concrete support, such as providing means for the people of Myanmar to access secure and affordable internet
- Provide digital security training and safety resources (such as safe houses, devices, and channels) for activists and organisations working in and outside the country
- Collaborate even further to raise awareness on military-inflicted atrocities and actively find concrete ways to counter them.
- EngageMedia also continues to do work to support digital rights in Myanmar. Check out EngageMedia.org/Myanmar for more information. Our work on Myanmar includes:
- Democracy and digital rights derailed in Myanmar, an action brief on the 2021 coup
- ‘A Year of Resistance’, films on human rights abuses and opposition in Myanmar
- The Tech Tales film Black Out, which dramatises a mother and daughter’s search for truth in post-coup Myanmar
- Pretty Good Podcast episodes on Myanmar’s ongoing resistance against the dictatorship: