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The most extreme example of such information controls occurred in 2007, when Burma’s international Internet connectivity was completely severed for two weeks following the government’s violent crackdown on widespread protests.
Combined with strict regulations on information distribution, slow connection speeds, and the extremely low levels of Internet penetration in Burma, this extensive record of information control prior to 2012 reflected a highly restricted and limited information space.Reforms have also extended to the country’s strict information control regime.Beginning in September 2011, reports from the country indicated that the historically pervasive levels of Internet censorship had been significantly reduced.International news sites, including Voice of America, BBC, and Radio Free Asia, long blocked by Burmese censors, had become accessible overnight.Reports also indicated that a number of previously censored independent Burma-focused news sites which have been highly critical of Burma’s ruling regime, such as the Democratic Voice of Burma and Irrawaddy, were suddenly accessible.Following the reduction in online censorship, the head of Burma’s press censorship department described such censorship as “not in harmony with democratic practices” and a practice that “should be abolished in the near future.” In August 2012, the Burmese Press Scrutiny and Registration Department announced that all pre-publication censorship of the press was to be discontinued, such that articles dealing with religion and politics would no longer require review by the government before publication.
In a September 2012 speech to the United Nations General Assembly, Burmese President Thein Sein described the country as having taken “irreversible steps” towards democracy, a speech broadcast on state television for the first time.
ONI has conducted testing for Internet filtering in Burma each year since 2005.
Prior to 2012, all instances of testing in Burma found pervasive blocking of web content, particularly critical political content, Burmese opposition websites, and independent media sites: Other forms of information controls beyond Internet filtering have also been extensively documented in Burma.
Crossposted from the Open Net Initiative blog After years spent as one of the world’s most strictly controlled information environments, the government of Burma (Myanmar) has recently begun to open up access to previously censored online content.
Independent and foreign news sites, oppositional political content, and sites with content relating to human rights and political reform — all previously blocked — have recently become accessible.
These developments have occurred as part of a broader process of political and economic liberalization currently underway in this historically strict authoritarian state.