Myanmar’s acting military leadership has shut down broadband internet service indefinitely in response to ongoing protests, according to a report from The Washington Post on Thursday. The move comes two months after a military junta staged a coup to depose the country’s democratically elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.
The shutdown applies to wireless broadband service, while a separate order banning mobile internet at night remains in effect, Reuters reports. The orders were given to state telecoms, though no official reason has been given.
IMPORTANT⛔️ Fixed wireless will not be turned on in morning. Confirmed. No Ananda/MMNet/Ooreddoo/etc. With mobile data already off, only fixed-line will remain. Order is temporary but open-ended. Everyone should be making whatever plans are possible.#WhatsHappeningInMyanmar— Free Expression Myanmar (@FreeExpressMm) April 1, 2021
NetBlocks, an advocacy group that tracks internet disruptions and shutdowns aimed at quashing dissent, has also confirmed the ongoing Myanmar shutdown timeline.
Update: Mobile data is cut in #Myanmar for an 18th day as limited internet is restored from 9 am Thursday morning local time after the 46th consecutive night of post-coup shutdowns. Online platforms remain heavily restricted #WhatsHappeningInMyanmar pic.twitter.com/7Zf5NbNvmi— NetBlocks (@netblocks) April 1, 2021
Myanmar is currently embroiled in protests against the military government, which has responded with increasingly totalitarian surveillance and censorship measures in addition to violence that has left more than 500 dead and thousands arrested since February, The Washington Post reports.
The internet shutdowns have now reached a new level of severity, with multiple telecoms ordered to shut off various internet services like mobile data, roaming, and public Wi-Fi for different lengths of time. The efforts appear designed to interfere with protestor organizing and to prevent Myanmar citizens, journalists, and human rights activists from more easily broadcasting what’s happening on the ground to the rest of the world.
In addition to the communications blackout and physical violence, The New York Times reports Myanmar’s military is using surveillance drones, phone-hacking devices (including European-made iPhone hacking tools), and software for cracking personal computer security as part of a widespread digital offensive against the opposition.