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  • » 05/16/2011, 00.00

    MYANMAR

    Internet cafés: Burmese government bans CDs, USB sticks and floppy disks



    External data storage devices are banned as the authorities tighten controls to prevent demonstrations and unrest. Censorship has not prevented the development of an underground blogging network. Ruling junta keeps mobile telephony on a leash.
    Yangon (AsiaNews) – The use of USB sticks, CDs, floppy disks and other external data storage devices in Burmese internet cafés has been banned. A new regulation issued by the Communications Ministry has tightened existing controls in the sector of Information Technologies (IT). This comes a f few weeks after the same ministry announced a plan to expand mobile telephony to extend 30 million more GSM mobile phone lines over the next five years. However, IT systems in Myanmar rank among the lowest in the world because of outdated technology and underdeveloped networks.

    The ban on data storage devices comes two months after the Burmese government adopted a law blocking transmission technologies for delivery of voice communication, this according to the Democratic Voice of Burma (see also “Burmese junta bans Skype and VoIP,” in AsiaNews, 22 March 2011). This IT system allows for low-cost internet communication.

    Ostensibly, the measure was designed to cut financial losses by local companies offering overseas calling, but it is also useful in enhancing state censorship since Skype and VoIP are hard to monitor.

    Existing legislation is already draconian. Already foreigners are required to hand over passport details, address and phone number before using an internet café computer, whilst café owners must submit monthly records of users’ internet usage data to the Myanmar Post and Telecommunications Ministry.

    At around 2 per cent, Burma’s internet penetration ranks among the lowest in the world, but numbers appear to be on the increase. Despite existing laws, a thriving underground blogging community has developed, whose members are willing to risk jail to exchange information, especially about the Jasmine Revolution in the Arab world.

    Notwithstanding government claims, the development of Myanmar’s mobile phone network is still hampered by antiquated technology and infrastructure.

    The government has also failed to solve network contradictions between different networking systems, an IT technician said on condition of anonymity.

    The New Light of Myanmar reported on 23 April that Burma would launch its own communication satellite with the aim of enhancing capabilities in communications and information sectors.

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    See also

    28/07/2011 MYANMAR
    Cyber war: Myanmar leader in attacks in 2011
    In the first quarter of 2011, 13 per cent of all cyber attacks in the world came from the country formerly known as Burma, ahead of the United States, Taiwan and China; in 2010, it did not even make the top ten list. Only 2 per cent of the population has access to a heavily censored internet. Egypt and Libya lead the world in most internet outages.

    09/02/2011 MYANMAR
    Western sanctions touch the regime, not the people, trade union leader says
    NCUB General Secretary U Maung Maung explains that the embargo imposed by the US and the EU does affect the civilian population. Most people survive thanks to border smuggling. The junta’s decision to close the border is the cause of poverty. For Aung San Suu Kyi, the economy is crucial to improving human rights.

    24/09/2008 MYANMAR
    "Superficial" concessions from Burmese junta to appease UN
    Yesterday, the military junta released Win Tin, a dissident journalist imprisoned for more than 20 years. 9,002 prisoners were freed, but only seven of those imprisoned for thought crimes. Censorship remains in place for the internet and international telephone calls.

    20/07/2010 MYANMAR – INDIA
    Senior General Than Shwe in India to discuss trade and security
    The visit is scheduled for 25-29 July. Under the guise of religion, the trip will favour closer economic ties and tighter controls on rebel groups along the Indo-Burmese border. Tata Motors might be interested in moving production of its Nano minicar to Myanmar.

    25/01/2010 MYANMAR
    Aung San Suu Kyi released at end of her sentence in November, Myanmar minister says
    Home Affairs Minister Maung Oo announces opposition leader’s release. This will bar her from taking part in the election called by the military junta. Ms Suu Kyi will purge her entire sentence. An opposition leader says the announcement is “nothing new or extraordinary.”



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