Since Saturday the Myanmar Ministry of Telecommunications confirmed the internet has been resumed on Rakhine and Chin state. However, the question arises, did the government really give usable internet access?
Earlier on March 2020, The Ministry of Telecommunications ( MoTC) issued a directive to all operators in Myanmar with a secret list of 230 sites to be blocked, according to the Ministry, due to the nature of the content – adult content and fake news. The order was based on Article 77 of the Telecommunications Law and the MoTC directive stipulated that the list of blocked sites was confidential and could not be made public. If an operator publicized the list, it would be in violation of the directive and local law.
Although, the block list included many websites that did not fall under the categories “adult content or fake news”. Several media related to minority ethnic groups and news focusing on the Rakhine state were found on the list according to Qurium.
Amongst the four operators in region, Telenor Myanmar said, “Telenor believes in open communications and regrets any inconvenience caused to their customers” in their press release. 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. 1,917 of the websites are on the INTERPOL list of child sexual abuse which were blocked immediately. The press release also says, the remaining 230 sites, Telenor verified and decided to block 154 websites in the category of adult/explicit content were blocked on 23rd March and 9 more sites were blocked on 7th April. Currently, 230 sites remain blocked due to the requests.
Some news sites such as Mandalay In-Depth News, KarenNews, Narinjara News and Voice of Myanmar remains blocked in Myanmar.