In Myanmar’s capital, residents limit use of VPNs due to shakedown by junta officials

Authorities are checking residents’ phones and demanding bribes from civilians found to be protecting their information and search history from surveillance

Myanmar regime officials’ increasingly common practice of extorting money from people with Virtual Private Network (VPN) apps installed on their phones has now spread to Naypyitaw, residents of the junta-controlled national capital said. 

One civilian said that local administrators in a residential ward of Lewe Township, Naypyitaw Union Territory had begun looking through residents’ mobile phones during nighttime household inspections, demanding bribes of 50,000 kyat (US $15) when they found a VPN.

VPNs protect users’ information from online surveillance by encrypting and protecting the confidentiality of online data sent between clients and servers. 

 “In the past, they just checked the household registration and overnight guests, but now they’re inspecting phones and demanding money, practically robbing us,” said the Naypyitaw resident, who requested anonymity for security reasons. 

A man living in Pyinmana Township, Naypyitaw Union Territory said that a team of traffic patrolmen, police. . .

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