Myanmar shuts down Internet after coup in blow for people and businesses

Internet connectivity in Myanmar fell to 14 per cent of the usual levels on February 7

Myanmar’s new military government has ordered the country’s telecommunication providers to shut down all mobile and fixed line data services as protests organised on the Internet grew nationwide, arguing that information shared on various platforms would “cause misunderstanding among the public.”

The companies, including the two major foreign investors Ooredoo and Telenor, as well as Vietnam-backed Myanmar National Tele & Communications and state-owned Myanma Posts and Telecommunications, have been told to block connectivity starting from 9am on February 6.

The Internet blackout is near-total, with connectivity falling to about 14% of ordinary levels as of February 7, London-based web freedom monitoring group NetBlocks Internet Observatory noted.

The Internet shutdown followed an earlier block of access to Twitter and Instagram to stop people mobilising for protests. Facebook had been banned a day earlier.

Businesses concerned about effects on economic activity

Businesses in Myanmar voiced their concerns about the web shutdown, noting it would certainly lead to harmful costs, not just for the companies without connectivity, but also for the national economy as such. In case the business community, including essential small and medium-sized enterprises, cannot work properly, it would weaken social and economic activity, business groups said.

Further, with more people using the Internet for online education, telemedicine, e-commerce and remote work, Internet closures would limit the ability of individuals to learn, work and purchase goods and services which would dent the entire blossoming digital economy in Myanmar, particularly during the ongoing pandemic, critics said.

No Internet means no business for many

More so, communication stoppages on such a large scale would affect the livelihood of the majority of people in the country and thereby inflict tremendous political, economic and humanitarian harm, in so far as the blockade would add to existing Covid-19-related issues and health risks, the critics noted.

Embassies also expressed their displeasure of the move, although at least the larger ones of them are usually using an independent satellite communications network.

Amnesty International calls blackout “heinous and reckless” amid coup, Covid-19  and Rohingya crisis

Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for campaigns, Ming Yu Hah, found strong words in commenting on the blackout ordered by the military and said that “to shut down the Internet amid a volatile coup, a humanitarian crisis and a health pandemic is a heinous and reckless decision.”

He called on the coup regime to allow the re-establishment of all telecommunications “immediately.”

“Such restrictions pose a real danger to an at-risk civilian populations, especially when access to information is so vital during the Covid-19 pandemic – and even more so when the situation on the ground is so tense amid the coup and in conflict-affected areas,” Ming said.



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Internet connectivity in Myanmar fell to 14 per cent of the usual levels on February 7 Myanmar’s new military government has ordered the country’s telecommunication providers to shut down all mobile and fixed line data services as protests organised on the Internet grew nationwide, arguing that information shared on various platforms would "cause misunderstanding among the public." The companies, including the two major foreign investors Ooredoo and Telenor, as well as Vietnam-backed Myanmar National Tele & Communications and state-owned Myanma Posts and Telecommunications, have been told to block connectivity starting from 9am on February 6. The Internet blackout is near-total,...

Internet connectivity in Myanmar fell to 14 per cent of the usual levels on February 7

Myanmar’s new military government has ordered the country’s telecommunication providers to shut down all mobile and fixed line data services as protests organised on the Internet grew nationwide, arguing that information shared on various platforms would “cause misunderstanding among the public.”

The companies, including the two major foreign investors Ooredoo and Telenor, as well as Vietnam-backed Myanmar National Tele & Communications and state-owned Myanma Posts and Telecommunications, have been told to block connectivity starting from 9am on February 6.

The Internet blackout is near-total, with connectivity falling to about 14% of ordinary levels as of February 7, London-based web freedom monitoring group NetBlocks Internet Observatory noted.

The Internet shutdown followed an earlier block of access to Twitter and Instagram to stop people mobilising for protests. Facebook had been banned a day earlier.

Businesses concerned about effects on economic activity

Businesses in Myanmar voiced their concerns about the web shutdown, noting it would certainly lead to harmful costs, not just for the companies without connectivity, but also for the national economy as such. In case the business community, including essential small and medium-sized enterprises, cannot work properly, it would weaken social and economic activity, business groups said.

Further, with more people using the Internet for online education, telemedicine, e-commerce and remote work, Internet closures would limit the ability of individuals to learn, work and purchase goods and services which would dent the entire blossoming digital economy in Myanmar, particularly during the ongoing pandemic, critics said.

No Internet means no business for many

More so, communication stoppages on such a large scale would affect the livelihood of the majority of people in the country and thereby inflict tremendous political, economic and humanitarian harm, in so far as the blockade would add to existing Covid-19-related issues and health risks, the critics noted.

Embassies also expressed their displeasure of the move, although at least the larger ones of them are usually using an independent satellite communications network.

Amnesty International calls blackout “heinous and reckless” amid coup, Covid-19  and Rohingya crisis

Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for campaigns, Ming Yu Hah, found strong words in commenting on the blackout ordered by the military and said that “to shut down the Internet amid a volatile coup, a humanitarian crisis and a health pandemic is a heinous and reckless decision.”

He called on the coup regime to allow the re-establishment of all telecommunications “immediately.”

“Such restrictions pose a real danger to an at-risk civilian populations, especially when access to information is so vital during the Covid-19 pandemic – and even more so when the situation on the ground is so tense amid the coup and in conflict-affected areas,” Ming said.



Support ASEAN news

Investvine has been a consistent voice in ASEAN news for more than a decade. From breaking news to exclusive interviews with key ASEAN leaders, we have brought you factual and engaging reports – the stories that matter, free of charge.

Like many news organisations, we are striving to survive in an age of reduced advertising and biased journalism. Our mission is to rise above today’s challenges and chart tomorrow’s world with clear, dependable reporting.

Support us now with a donation of your choosing. Your contribution will help us shine a light on important ASEAN stories, reach more people and lift the manifold voices of this dynamic, influential region.

$
Personal Info

Donation Total: $10.00

 

 

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