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31 Jan 2023

Access Now

Myanmar: Access Now statement calls out cos. allegedly helping Myanmar military build a surveillance infrastructure

"Resist Myanmar’s digital coup: International community must dismantle military dictatorship — or reap repercussions", 31 January 2023


Myanmar’s telecommunications sector is now entirely controlled by the military – setting the stage for unprecedented surveillance. [...] It was recently reported that prior to the coup, Israeli company, Cognyte Software Ltd, won a tender to sell intercept spyware to a state-backed telecommunications firm in Myanmar.


When people are online, they are subjected to constant surveillance, doxxing, rampant discriminatory hatred, and violent incitement. The military and military-linked actors dart from one platform to another, spreading hateful and violent propaganda to provoke real world harms. Actors inciting hate primarily use Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, and Telegram, and easily reestablish accounts and online followings if and when companies finally remove their content. There have been numerous arrests  of people who have used social media posts to support the resistance movement. Doxxing on Telegram is continuing unabated, as personal information and sexual content is shared on channels with thousands of followers, facilitating vigilante violence, mass shaming, and harassment, especially against women. Telegram must invest in addressing these harms and engage with civil society to put in place rights-based safeguards.


Surveillance online and on the streets is a daily reality in Myanmar, and freedom of movement is severely restricted. Closed circuit television (CCTV) systems with facial recognition technology are now in at least ten cities and the infrastructure continues to expand in other parts of the country. These CCTVs are being sold by Zhejiang Dahua Technology, Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, and Hikvision [...]