Thursday, October 13, 2005

Myanmar Internet Censorship

In the middle of another busy semester, it now seems like my Goldent Triangle Trip was a long time ago. However, I will continue to add occasional postings here related to the Golden Triangle region of Southeast Asia.

This one comes from the NY Times, via the International Herald Tribune. I try to avoid posting items from the NYT as they charge for access to their articles after a very short time period. However, I have found the IHT to be much better about this.

This article is about how Myanmar is one of the worst countries in the world when it comes to blocking parts of the WWW from the view of its residents. And software from a US company (Fortinet) appears to be its current preference in doing this. (We did not see any Internet access in the region we traveled through, though our tour guides' company did have an email address.)

Hot market for censorship tools
By Tom Zeller Jr. - The New York Times - WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2005

Here are the first few paragraphs...

It should come as no surprise that the Internet in Myanmar, which has been in the iron grip of a military dictatorship for decades, is heavily filtered and carefully monitored.

But a new report from the OpenNet Initiative, a human rights project linking researchers from the University of Toronto, Harvard Law School and Cambridge University, once again raises tough questions about the use of filtering technologies - often developed by Western companies - by autocratic governments seeking to control what their citizens see on the Web.

Myanmar "employs one of the most restrictive regimes of Internet filtering worldwide that we have studied," said Ronald Deibert, a principal investigator for the OpenNet Initiative and director of the Citizen Lab at the Munk Center for International Studies at the University of Toronto.

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, now joins a group of nations, including China, Iran and Singapore, that rely on Western software and hardware to accomplish their goals, Deibert said.