Yangon – Norwegian telecoms – Telenor – currently one of the mobile and internet service providers in Myanmar is about to sell its operations to a prospective buyer – Shwe Byain Phu, which has allegedly close ties to the military junta.
After months of struggle under the pressure from the military junta, the Norwegian Telecoms planning to sell its operation comes amid the increasing escalation of violence, arrest and brutal crackdown by the Myanmar military junta through the intense scrutiny of citizens’ mobile and internet service data.
The news about the Norwegian Telecoms’ sale to Shwe Byain Phu company has prompted activists to launch an online petition campaign on the Action Network platform for which more than 240,000 people have signed the online petition.
Myanmar’s Human rights groups and activists fear that the sale of Telenor operations to Shwe Byain Phu might end masses of personal and organisation data up in the hands of the military junta that might subsequently result in the arrests and killings of many.
Many Telenor customers in Myanmar have shown their frustration on social media over the news of Telenor telecoms planning to sell its operations to Shwe Byain Phu group.
What makes many, including rights groups and activists equally concern about this is that sensitive private information, including SIM card registration, call logs, internet logs, location data, mobile money usage, activity records be transferred to the military junta.
Telenor has more than 18 million customers and became one of the largest telecoms operators in Myanmar since 2014.
Reuters has reported that several investors in Telenor (Tel.OL) are seeking assurances from Telenor that customer data will be protected following the sale of its operations in Myanmar.
Justice for Myanmar (JFM) says Shwe Byain Phu group has business links to the military conglomerate Myanma Economic Holdings Limited (MEHL). In addition, it has a business relationship with another military conglomerate Myanma Economic Corporation (MEC), through their investment in military-controlled mobile operator, MyTel, which trades under the name Telecom International Myanmar Company Limited.
Both MEHL and MEC responsible for directly financing the military top brass are sanctioned in the EU, UK and USA.