Several human rights advocates and civil society organisations, including the Asia Internet Coalition (AIC), an association of leading internet and technology companies including Google, Facebook, Twitter among others, issued statements this week against the cyberlaw bill being developed by the new military junta in Myanmar.
The bill is due to be implemented and was distributed among mobile operators and telecoms license holders for their comment on Tuesday; it is expected to be made public by the junta on 15 February.
According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the proposed law is said to “organise online censorship”, restrict activities of pro-democracy activists and violate the confidentiality of journalists’ data and the public’s right to reliable information. Social media platforms can be forced “to share private information about their users when requested by the authorities.”
Jeff Paine, Managing Director of AIC said, they are
…deeply concerned by this attempt to disrupt access to information and knowledge for the people of Myanmar during a time of significant political change. The military’s proposed bill grants its leaders unprecedented power to censor citizens and violate their privacy, contravening democratic norms and fundamental rights guaranteed under international law. This would significantly undermine freedom of expression and represents a regressive step after years of progress. We urge the military leaders to consider the potentially devastating consequences of these proposed laws on Myanmar’s people and economy.
In the wake of the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi being overthrown by the junta (military) earlier this month, numerous demonstrations and peaceful protests were organised. These were met with junta-directed internet shutdowns. According to Myanmar telecommunications company Telenor, multiple orders and directives shut down data networks, block social media platforms and IP addresses have been given by the Myanmar Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC).