A draft cybersecurity law due to be executed in Myanmar has raised protests that It’ll Be used to quash dissent Instead of protect privacy

BANGKOK — A draft cybersecurity law due to be executed in Myanmar has increased protests it will be used to quash dissent instead of protect privacy.

Human rights advocates issued statements Friday advocating the nation’s military leaders to drop the plan and finish internet disruptions which have intensified since a Feb. 1 coup.

The draft legislation indicates the army’s intent to”permanently sabotage net freedom in the country,” explained Matthew Bugher, head of the Asia application for the group Article 19, which issued a statement condemning the strategy together with the Open Net Association and the International Commission of Jurists.

Internet service providers and many others were granted until Monday, Feb. 15, to react to the proposed law.

“The army is used to having total electricity in Myanmar, but this time they must face a people that has access to information and may communicate internally and externally,” he said.

The military’s seizure of power and arrest of federal leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other members of her National League for Democracy party have ignited massive peaceful protests throughout the country, despite attempts by authorities to enforce order by disrupting internet services.

That’s set internet service providers and other telecommunications firms in a bind.

Jeff Paine, managing director of the Asia Internet Coalition, a group of leading worldwide internet companies such as Facebook and Google, said the bill would provide the army”unprecedented power to censor citizens and violate their privacy, contravening democratic norms and fundamental rights guaranteed under international law.”

He advocated coup leaders to consider”potentially devastating” impacts on the Myanmar economy as well as people.

Norway’s Telenor, a significant mobile service provider, said that it had been facing”several dilemmas.”

“Access to telecom providers is essential for people to exercise their fundamental right to freedom of expression and opinion, and to acquire information. These services are also critical in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and for economic opportunities,” the firm said in a statement published on a section of its website dedicated to the Myanmar crisis.

“When following jurisdiction orders in such irregular times, we know it has adverse effect on human rights in Myanmar. We are working to minimize the impact,” it said.

The business said it was assessing each government order according to its legality, effect on human rights, requirement and transparency.

But in addition, it noted that it needed to look at the safety of its employees.

A group of 158 Myanmar nongovernmental organizations also has released a statement protesting the draft legislation.

Before the coup, the authorities had been working on a master plan for internet management and cybersecurity.

Among other requirements, opponents of the draft law said it calls for banning online anonymity, eliminating content the government deems unacceptable and penalizing violations with criminal penalties.

The legislation demands the elimination of online comments regarded as misinformation or disinformation, that might cause”hate” or disrupt stability, and any remark that might violate any existing law.

Its provisions involve a sentence of up to three years and/or a fine for any individual convicted of producing”misinformation” and”disinformation” with the intent of causing public anxiety, loss of social or trust division in cyberspace.

The legislation also would require internet service providers to maintain usernames, IP addresses and other personal data for up to three decades. The data needs to be stored in a location designated by the government.

The online service providers may face maximum prison sentences of three years plus a fine for failing to comply with the law’s broad and vague provisions.