Government blocks more websites it claims have ‘terrorist’ links

The government has ordered mobile internet providers to block more websites that it claims are linked to “terrorists” – though it has once again refused to disclose the names of the sites.

The order came at the suggestion of the military and the military-controlled home affairs ministry, said Myo Swe, director general of the telecommunications department.

Operators have been told to block three websites, six domains and two IP addresses, he told Myanmar Now.

“It’s difficult to name the sites. Mainly they are organisations regarded as terrorist organisations and the sites are associated with these,” he said.

He also claimed the blocked domains and IP addresses are associated with viruses, cybercrimes and cyber attacks, but did not elaborate.

Two foreign mobile operators in Myanmar, Ooredoo and Telenor, have faced a backlash for going along with previous orders, which involved blocks on news websites and were condemned by rights groups.

“We have to follow the rules because of the law,” Tint Naing Htut, a spokesperson for Ooredoo, told Myanmar Now. “We were instructed to block these sites by May 11,” he added.

Telenor has also sought to deflect criticism by saying it is legally obliged to comply with the orders.

“Telenor Myanmar believes in open communication,” it said in a statement. “The company continues its dialogue with the authorities on the principles of authorities’ interventions to block websites in Myanmar.”

This is the third order to block websites in two months. In March the government blocked access to 221 sites it claimed contained explicit content, child pornography, and fake news.

But it refused to provide any evidence of that, and the banned sites included news outlets that had reported critically on the military’s attacks against the Arakan Army in Rakhine state.

News outlets included in the ban can apply to have access restored through the information ministry and the Myanmar Press Council, Myo Swe said.

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