The people of Myanmar have the right to open, reliable, and secure internet access without discrimination. Today, May 31, Access Now and the #KeepItOn coalition are calling on the military and all public authorities in Myanmar to immediately stop implementing internet shutdowns, and abandon all efforts to “whitelist” — or pick and choose — organizations, corporations, and individuals for whom internet connectivity should be reinstated.
“Authorities in Myanmar have been toying with internet access and digital rights since they seized power in February,” said Felicia Anthonio, #KeepItOn Lead at Access Now. “Whitelisting those who can access the internet, and whitelisting the sites and apps that can be accessed, will divide the nation further. Against a backdrop of serious human rights violations and a deadly pandemic, these dangerous moves are placing people’s lives at risk.”
The #KeepItOn coalition, through a joint statement signed by 43 human rights groups, is petitioning authorities in Myanmar to:
- Abandon all divisive whitelisting efforts;
- Immediately reinstate internet access for all without discrimination, including reinstating mobile internet connectivity and allowing internet service providers to freely operate;
- Refrain from abusing technologies to infringe on people’s fundamental rights; and
- Stop imposing internet shutdowns that provide the military cover to commit human rights violations.
“Whitelisting is not only a violation of rights, but technically impossible to implement. It will add more chaos to an already unpredictable situation where people are unsure of when, where, and how they can access information online or whom they can connect with,” said Dhevy Sivaprakasam, Asia Pacific Policy Counsel at Access Now. “Attempts to truncate and redirect online communications will also open up digital infrastructure to cybersecurity risks.”
Access Now has been pressing the junta to uphold rights since the coup on February 1, and will continue to fight for the rights of people across Myanmar until they are prioritized.