Online Censorship in Burma: A Foreign Affair
covering burma and southeast asia
Saturday, March 23, 2019
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Online Censorship in Burma: A Foreign Affair


By Clive Parker NOVEMBER, 2005 - VOLUME 13 NO.11


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Overseas IT firms offer Burma’s government added protection against online activism

 

Of the 1,100 prisoners of conscience currently languishing in jails throughout Burma, not one is a cyber-dissident. No organization contacted by The Irrawaddy has any record of Burma’s military government detaining or sentencing a single Burmese citizen because of their activities on the worldwide web.

 

 

 

Given Burma’s recent efforts to get its hands on the most advanced security and spying software available, however, that statistic may be about to change.

 

Companies and IT specialists from the US, Canada, Britain, Thailand and Singapore are now offering their wares to the Burmese government as it strives to further secure the net, meaning those that have been bypassing the country’s filtering system thus far may be in for a nasty surprise.

 

“Burma’s system of internet control…may worsen as it moves to a more sophisticated software product and as the state moves to tighten online restrictions,” the Open Net Institute—a collaboration between the universities of Harvard, Toronto and Cambridge—said in a report published last month.

 

But since its publication, the situation has been progressing even more quickly in Burma’s IT sector—ONI’s research does not include deals done since the spring, when it conducted its research into the activities of US-based Fortinet.

 

The company appears to have been involved in Burma since last May, when sales representative Benjamin Teh visited Rangoon to introduce Fortiguard, considered one of the most comprehensive filtering products available. The New Light of Myanmar documented the occasion with a report saying Fortinet had teamed up with Myanmar Millennium Group.

 

MMG would not take calls to discuss the arrangement, while Teh himself says Fortinet has no involvement in Burma, even refusing to admit he had visited the country.



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