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Myanmar military junta introduces a new proposed cybersecurity law to punish the internet users with VPN

Yangon – Myanmar military junta is set to introduce a cybersecurity law to punish the citizens of Myanmar for using virtual private network (VPN) under a new proposed cybersecurity law in attempts to double crackdown on anti-junta activists and groups. 

The proposed cybersecurity law, first proposed in February 2021 following the coup on 01 February but not successfully reinforced into law, aims to punish the citizens of Myanmar for the use of VPN for up to three-year imprisonment. 

The proposed law requires all service providers to provide all users’ personal information to the authorities when requested by the authorities. 

This proposed cybersecurity bill has sent high worry among the business and industry communities, fearing that the law would be a blockage for their business operations and would negatively impact financial institutions and tech companies, said a person who has few businesses in Yangon. 

Pro-democracy groups view the proposed law as intended to incrasingly crack down on the anti-junta activists and limit the information flow inside the country. 

According to our source, the people of Myanmar can only access Facebook and Twitter using the VPN that allows privates and secure internet connections. 

Although the proposed law is in the draft stage, Myanmar junta security forces at Hledan areas of Kamaryut Township in Yangon has started checking many drivers whether they use VPN on their mobile phones. The security forces demanded at least Kyats – 100,000, – the amount which is equivalent to USD 60 at the black market exchange rate, and drivers are let go after many drivers give them money as demanded.

Our source added that the junta security forces select good cards when checking whether the drivers use VPN. 

Miss Thel Thel, who was selling online live using VPN, was raided and arrested at 7:00 pm on 23 January by the junta security forces who wear a civilian dress in Dawpung Township, Yangon region. 

Miss Thel Thel was released back after the negotiation was made successful. 

The official letter, dated 13 January, was signed by Soe Thein, a permanent secretary of transport and communications ministry under the military junta, demanding feedback from several government ministries and other industries, including the Union of Myanmar Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI), by 28 January 2022. 

Last year, the cybersecurity law proposed was vehemently opposed by civil society organizations and effectively prevented from becoming law.

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