Myanmar Stakeholders Call for Consultation on Draft Privacy and Security Law
On 14/15 December, MCRB co-organised Myanmar’s first Digital Rights Forum together with Phandeeyar: Myanmar Innovation Lab, Myanmar ICT for Development Organization (MIDO), and Engage Media with the support of The Embassy of Sweden.
More than 55 leaders from local and international technology companies, government, media and civil society organizations from around the country met to address critical digital rights challenges in Myanmar at a time when the country has experienced a connectivity revolution.
There are now tens of millions of people using the internet in Myanmar. However, recent events have highlighted how vulnerable people in Myanmar are when communicating and sharing information online.
To set the context, Vicky Bowman kicked off with a presentation that ‘Digital Rights are Human Rights’ based on the findings of MCRB’s September 2015 Sector Wide Impact Assessment on the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector.
Vicky noted that ‘These issues affect everyone. It’s important there’s wide consultation and all stakeholders including government and business representatives are engaged’.
Critical issues discussed by the Forum included:
Threats to freedom of speech posed inter alia by the arrest under Article 66(d) of Myanmar’s Telecommunications Law of journalists and ordinary citizens for Facebook posts;
Information privacy: the right for citizens to have some control over how their information is collected and used by the government and companies;
Right to information: the idea that the public should be able to access information held by the government; and
Online hate speech: contesting online speech that call for discrimination, hostility or violence based on race, ethnicity, or religion.
At the Forum, 19 civil society and business organisations issued a statement calling on the Parliament to delay adoption of its draft Citizens Privacy and Security Law until genuine public consultation has been carried out.
Participants in the Forum also plan to develop specific policy recommendations, strategies and campaigns on this and other key issues.