Burma Steps Up Internet Restrictions

According to news reports, Burma’s military government has taken further steps to restrict citizen access to the Internet by silencing dissidents and stepping up raids on Internet cafes. Hacker attacks originating from Russia, China, and Singapore blocked access to four major news websites in the run-up to the twentieth anniversary of the September 1988 pro-democracy uprising.

Connection speeds in Internet cafes have decreased dramatically, making it difficult to send or receive photos and videos. Burmese authorities acknowledge filtration and tight surveillance of email messages sent by services such as Yahoo!, Gmail, and Hotmail. Two Burmese cyber-dissidents are in prison for using their right to freedom of expression online.

Critics note the government’s fear of the Internet and their desire to keep it out of the hands of their subjects. Although the Internet was introduced to Burma in 1997, individual access was not permitted until 2000. Today only 0.1 percent of the population connect to the Internet.