Myanmar businesses criticise junta cyber law plans

by Reuters
Friday, 12 February 2021 16:29 GMT

A woman holds a placard during a rally against the military coup and to demand the release of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, in Inle Lake, Myanmar February 11, 2021 in this picture obtained by Reuters. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES

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The draft laws were circulated to telecoms companies this week after the army seized power in a Feb. 1 coup

Feb 12 (Reuters) - A group of 50 businesses in Myanmar on Friday criticised new cyber laws proposed by the junta, saying they would contravene human rights, violate data privacy and curtail innovation.

Some of the world's biggest internet companies and civil society organisations have also raised alarm over the draft laws, which were circulated to telecoms companies this week after the army seized power in a Feb. 1 coup.

The government has not commented on the plan or the criticism.

"The "Bill" includes open-ended clauses which seriously violate human rights," the businesses, many of them tech companies, said in a statement.

They said "the "Bill" curtails the right to open innovation in the entrepreneurial sector, information technology sector, and any other business sectors."

A copy of the draft says its aims include protecting the public and preventing crime and harm to the state.

Internet providers would have to prevent or remove content deemed to "cause hatred, destroy unity and tranquillity", be "untruthful news or rumours" or be inappropriate to Myanmar's culture.

More than 160 Myanmar civil society organisations have criticised the draft, as has the Asia Internet Coalition, whose members include Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon.

The junta banned Facebook and Twitter after they became platforms for its critics, but it has failed to quell protests.

Myanmar was one of the world's most isolated countries under military rule from 1962 to 2011, when a quasi-civilian government began liberalisation.

(Writing by Matthew Tostevin; Editing by Toby Chopra)