On 14 and 15 December, more than 55 leaders from local and international technology companies, government, media and civil society organizations from around the country met at Myanmar Digital Rights Forum – held at Phandeeyar – to talk about critical digital rights challenges in Myanmar.
During the past two years, we’ve seen that Myanmar has experienced a connectivity revolution; tens of millions of people are now using the internet. Despite this connectivity boom, rights groups and media organizations have seen that there are urgent digital rights challenges that needs to be addressed.
Rights groups and media organisations have noted the threats to freedom of speech posed by the arrest under Article 66(d) of Myanmar’s Telecommunications Law of journalists and ordinary citizens for Facebook posts. However, Article 66(d) is only one of many issues that need to be addressed. Other critical issues include:
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.
Daw Htaike Htaike Aung, Executive Director of Myanmar ICT for Development Organization (MIDO) and a co-organizer of the forum said, “The benefits of connectivity won’t be realized if people are scared to use the internet. The objective of the Myanmar Digital Rights Forum is to raise awareness about the importance of these issues and to develop concrete plans to address them”.
Attendees of the Forum plan to develop specific policy recommendations, strategies and campaigns on the key issues.
Myanmar Digital Rights Forum is organized by Phandeeyar: Myanmar Innovation Lab, Myanmar ICT for Development Organization (MIDO), Engage Media and Myanmar Center for Responsible Business (MCRB) with the support of The Embassy of Sweden.