Myanmar’s military-ruled government is proposing to enact laws that will see users of virtual private networks (VPN) and digital currencies being jailed for up to three years. Offenders could also be fined as high as $2,800.
Comment on the Draft Bill
Myanmar’s military-ruled government is proposing to enact a law that outlaws the use of virtual private networks (VPN) and digital currencies in that country. Violators of the law, once it is enacted will face prison time and a fine.
A report by The Register states that anyone caught using VPNs could face between one to three years in jail. Additionally, the fine for violators could be as high as $2800, or $5 million Myanmar Kyats. For digital currency users, a minimum sentence of six months is required and an maximum term of one year. Additionally, they will be subject to fines as high as $2,800.
Besides targeting digital currency and VPN users, the military government’s proposed regulations will compel service providers to provide the personal information of users when requested to do so by authorities.
A draft bill signed by Soe Thein, the permanent secretary of the Military’s Transport and Communications Ministry, is currently open for comments. According to the report, the citizens are allowed to make comments on the draft through January 28.
Criticized Proposed Law
Reacting to the proposals, Alp Toker, the director of Netblocks — an internet monitoring company — is quoted in the report criticising the military government’s attempts to include provisions that were previously rejected by industry and civil society. According to the director:
Even by Burmese standards the bill proposed is quite draconian [Myanmar] military. After industry and civil society unified to oppose the first bill, the second version was dropped in February 2021. However, the military is determined to get its way.
Toker argued that VPNs have been one of the ways Myanmar has stayed in touch with the rest of the world after the country’s military rulers that took power in February 2021, blocked social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Toker warns that while the Myanmar military is expected to pass the laws, the Register report states that Toker believes the decision will backfire on government.
“These are certain to have a chilling effect on political speech and human rights, but ultimately this is only going to turn public sentiment further against military rule.”
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