Press Release

Blocking of websites in Myanmar (Updated 9 September 2020)

09 September, 2020 - Yangon

Statements on this page relate to directives from Myanmar authorities regarding to block websites in Myanmar. Updates added below.

Blocking of 230 websites in Myanmar based on directive from the authorities

Published: 30 March 2020. Updated: 8 April 2020

The Myanmar Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC) has directed all mobile operators in Myanmar to block access to a number of specified websites. Telenor will continue its dialogue with MoTC to seek to limit the duration and scale of the block for 230 of the sites.

Note: This release has been updated to reflect an additional request received on 31 March 2020.

Between 19 and 31 March 2020, Telenor Myanmar and other operators have received three directives from the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC) to block a total of 2,147 specified websites under Section 77 of the Telecommunications Law.

According to the authorities, the sites contain adult/explicit content, child sexual abuse, and contribute to misinformation (“fake news”).

  • 1,917 of the websites are on the INTERPOL list of child sexual abuse and are routinely blocked by Telenor Myanmar in line with human rights law and international practice. Telenor Group has been actively engaged in the international coordinated fight against online child sexual abuse since 2004.
  • For the remaining 230 sites, Telenor conducted a thorough assessment and decided to comply with parts of the initial directive. 154 websites in the category of adult/explicit content were blocked on 23 March and 9 more sites were blocked on 7th April. Currently 230 sites remain blocked due to the requests.

Telenor Myanmar initially did not comply with the request to block sites in the category of “fake news” as it is unable to establish sufficient legal basis for this part of the request. There are 67 websites in this category.

After further dialogue with MoTC, however, Telenor has assessed that the risk involved in not following the directive as regards fake news is likely to have wider implications in terms of servicing the public. Hence, the remaining sites have been blocked bringing the total count to 230.

Telenor Myanmar maintains that its business is to provide a telecommunications channel and that we do not, and should not, select or alter the content of communications in our channel.

Customers trying to access the 230 blocked URLs are directed to a landing page stating that the sites cannot be reached as the authorities of Myanmar have ordered them to be blocked. Telenor Myanmar believes in open communication and regrets any inconvenience caused to its customers.

Telenor Myanmar stand in solidarity with Myanmar during these challenging times of COVID-19 pandemic. We recognize that tackling disinformation and online falsehood about COVID-19 is an important part of the fight against the pandemic.

Telenor Myanmar supports the Myanmar government in spreading fair and balanced information about COVID-19 by:

  • Running market communication campaigns focusing on hygiene, social distancing and personal protection
  • Zero-rating the Ministry of Health and Sports’ website, including all public information related to the ongoing COVID-19 situation in Myanmar, and publicizing this on social media channels
  • Substituting standard ringback tone for Telenor subscribers with official MoHS information on COVID-19
  • Educating its staff and business partners in taking proper precautions, hygiene habits and social distancing.

Telenor Myanmar will explore other ways of assisting the Myanmar government and citizens as the situation develops.

Update 9 September 2020:

Telenor Myanmar has received a directive to reopen three websites that were blocked under the directives above mentioned statement. The three news websites, which have been blocked to users in Myanmar since 20 and 24 March 2020, are now fully accessible on Telenor Myanmar’s network since 7 September 2020. According to the unblocking directive, the sites are not found to spread misinformation or violating media ethics. It is also mentioned that the agencies running the news sites are registered with the Myanmar Press Council.

Telenor Myanmar believes in open communication. The company continues its dialogue with the authorities on the principles of authorities’ interventions to block websites in Myanmar.

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