The Myanmar Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC) has directed all mobile operators to temporarily shut down the data network in Myanmar, Telenor reports. Voice and SMS services remain open. More about the Myanmar data shutdown is below.
In the directive, the MoTC cites the legal basis in Myanmar’s Telecommunication Law, and references the circulation of fake news, the stability of the nation, and the interests of the public as basis for the order. Telenor Myanmar, as a local company, is bound by local law and needs to handle this irregular and difficult situation. We have employees on the ground, and our first priority is to ensure their safety.
Telenor Group views this development with deep concern. We have emphasized to the authorities that access to telecom services should be maintained at all times, especially during times of conflict, to ensure people’s basic rights to freedom of expression and access to information.
We deeply regret the impact the shutdown has on the people in Myanmar, Telenor Group said.
A near-total internet blackout is in effect, with connectivity falling to 16% of ordinary levels, said the monitoring group NetBlocks Internet Observatory.
The internet shutdown happened hours after the military blocked access to Twitter and Instagram to stop people from mobilizing for protests. Facebook had been banned a day earlier.
Many users had evaded the restrictions on social media by using virtual private networks (VPNs), but the more general blackout severely disrupted that. Myanmar data shutdown
Civil society organizations urged internet providers and mobile networks to challenge the blackout order, Reuters news agency reports. Human rights group Amnesty International called the shutdown “heinous and reckless”.
The military has not commented.