Until 2013, Myanmar had only a few internet service providers, all of which were controlled by the government. The political transition in Myanmar offered the digital sector an opportunity to leapfrog, as investments in the telecommunications market sharply increased. The drop in SIM card prices – together with the influx of investment from foreign mobile operators in newly liberalized markets – marked a new era for the country. After decades of being cut off from the outside, people began using mobile phones as their main device for communicating and accessing the internet. Today, more than 17 million people – representing 26 percent of the country – regularly go online. Despite these changes, restrictive telecommunications laws continue to threaten the freedom of expression online. Under the military government, regulations were enacted to sue internet users, including journalists, in order to silence critical voices. Furthermore, false rumors and hate speech are incited by some politicians, leading to violence and mistrust. Myanmar, therefore, has a long way to go before it achieves real online freedom.
Some improvements in Myanmar’s fight for digital freedom