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The devastating cost of Burma’s Internet shut down

In: Tech

Since the Burmese military’s February 1 coup, the military has restricted the Burmese citizens’ access to the internet. access. This restriction, which is meant to protect the power of the military, both denies access to information and hampers the country’s economy.

During the coup the military took over the government and shut down websites. Massive network disruptions have continued. The outages have affected a variety of networks, including international operators and the cellular service, as per news reports.

Reporters can’t post news stories and families aren’t able to access the information required to safeguard themselves from COVID-19, and companies suffer, particularly the tens of thousands of entrepreneurs who run online companies.

“The whole digital economy basically fell apart when they blocked mobile internet,” an entrepreneur in Rangoon informed the non-profit news outlet Rest of World. The outlet says the censorship regime’s network interruptions caused “gutted” hundreds of small businesses on the internet.

The economic burden on Burma over $24 million each day, according to estimates by NetBlocks which is a non-governmental organization which monitors internet usage.

The United States and partner nations are demanding a return of democracy and an end to military violent attacks against peaceful demonstrators. In the aftermath of the coup the Burmese military has killed more than 700 protesters and detained thousands of people which includes democratically elected media, activists, and government officials.

Access to information is an absolute human right, as enshrined by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Freedom House calls internet shutdowns an unwieldy tool that could cause “an enormous, devastating impact” on society.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently condemned government-imposed shutdowns of internet access and other techniques that restrict freedom of expression online.

The Burmese military’s shutdown of the internet has not just hampered the news or social media sites. They’ve also blocked a mobile application which allows users to monitor the spread of coronavirus and check affected regions, according to the Open Observatory of Network Interference which opposes internet-based censorship.

Burmese businesses affected by the suppression vary from farms where research prices are available online, to national businesses which also depend on the internet to function, Reuters reports.

Oliver Spencer, of Free Expression Myanmar, said the military’s shutdowns to networks hurt everyone. “Shutting down the internet is meant as just one demonstration of their power and absolute authority,” he told Wired magazine. “But it’s a vast self-harm.”

That harm ultimately affects Burma’s 54 million citizens which, for the most part, rely on wireless internet for information to protests myanmar netblocksfingasengadget. “As protest grows as the situation gets more violent, the intention behind the shutdown is to inspire anxiety and stop people from communicating, organizing demonstrations or accessing critical info,” the Centre for International Governance Innovation states.

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