Since the February 1 military coup the military has limited the Burmese people’s right to internet access. This limitation, designed to keep the power of the military restricts access to information and cripples the nation’s economy.
During the coup the military was able to shut down websites. Network disruptions that were severe have continued. The outages have affected several networks including international operators, as well as the cellular service, as per reports in the media.
Reporters cannot post news, families can’t access information to help protect themselves from COVID-19. Likewise, companies suffer, particularly the thousands of entrepreneurs operating online businesses.
“The whole digital economy fell apart when they blocked mobile internet,” an entrepreneur in Rangoon said to the non-profit news publication Rest of World. The outlet reports that the regime’s network disruptions caused “gutted” hundreds of internet-based businesses that are small.
The burden to the Burmese economy over $24 million each day, according to estimates from NetBlocks the non-governmental group which monitors internet usage.
The United States and partner nations are demanding a return of democracy and an end to the military aggression against peaceful protesters. After the coup Burma’s army has killed more than 700 protesters, and has detained thousands of people which includes democratically elected officials, activists and journalists.
Information access is one of the fundamental rights guaranteed to all human beings within the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Freedom House calls internet shutdowns an unwieldy tool that could be a source of “an immense, destructive impact” on the society.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently condemned government-imposed internet shutdowns and other tactics which hinder freedom of expression online.
The Burmese military’s shutdown of the internet has not only obstructed information and media websites. They’ve also stopped a mobile application that allows users to track the spread of coronavirus as well as check the affected regions in accordance with the Open Observatory of Network Interference which opposes internet-based censorship.
Burmese businesses harmed by the suppression vary from farms that research prices online, to national companies that also depend on technology that protests myanmar netblocksfingasengadget. Technology is digital for their operation, Reuters reports.
Oliver Spencer, of Free Expression Myanmar Oliver Spencer, from Free Expression Myanmar military’s network shut downs hurt everyone. “Shutting down the internet is intended as just one demonstration of their total power,” he told Wired magazine.”But it’s a massive self-harm.” The end result is that the harm will affect the population of Burma’s 54 million, the majority of whom depend on wireless internet for information. “As protests escalate in Burma, the purpose of the shutdown is to instill fear and to prevent people from communicating, organizing demonstrations or accessing critical details,” the Centre for International Governance Innovation declares.