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Myanmar military government's cyber Bill would violate rights, critics say

Myanmar military government's cyber Bill would violate rights, critics say

People rally against the military coup and to demand the release of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, in Yangon, Myanmar, on Feb 9, 2021. (Photo: REUTERS/Stringer)

YANGON:: Cyber-security laws floated by Myanmar's new military government to allow it to ban content it dislikes, restrict internet providers and intercept data would violate human rights, a group of civil society organisations said on Wednesday (Feb 10).

The 36 pages outlining the proposed laws were given to mobile operators and telecoms license holders for comment on Tuesday - just over a week after the army overthrew the elected government of Aun San Suu Kyi, a statement from the groups said.

Spokesmen for the government and the telecommunication ministry did not answer their phones. Reuters was not able to independently verify the document, dated Feb 6, which has circulated widely in Myanmar.

"The so-called Bill includes clauses which violate human rights, including the rights to freedom of expression, data protection and privacy, and other democratic principles and human rights in the online space," said the statement, signed by more than 150 organisations.

A copy of the proposed Bill, reviewed by Reuters, says its aims include protecting the public and preventing crimes and the use of electronic technology to harm the state or its stability.

It says internet providers would have to prevent or remove content deemed to "cause hatred, destroy unity and tranquillity" to be "untruthful news or rumours" or to be inappropriate to Myanmar's culture, such as pornography.

Spokesmen for internet firm Myanmar Net and mobile operator Telenor said they were not aware of the proposed Bill.

Days after seizing power, Myanmar's military rulers banned Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms where its critics had voiced opposition. The junta blocked the Internet for a day, but that did not stop the biggest protests in more than a decade against the coup.

The civil society groups accused the junta of drafting the Bill to restrict the mobilisation of its opponents.

Myanmar was one of the world's most isolated countries under juntas between 1962 and 2011, when a quasi-civilian government began liberalisation.

Source: Reuters/ec


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