Blocking of 230 websites in Myanmar based on directive from the authorities
30 March, 2020 - Yangon
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.
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 76 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.