Business Groups Voice Deep Concern Over Regime's Proposed Cyber Law

By The Irrawaddy 16 February 2021

YANGON — Eight western chambers of commerce, including from the US, UK and EU, have expressed grave concerns about new cybersecurity legislation, proposed by the military regime, saying it empowers the coup leaders to close entire businesses.

A joint statement said the draft law would enable the “authorities to intervene in business operations at their unfettered discretion”, including enforcing data localization, confiscation of equipment and the prohibition of entire operations.

The military regime asked IT providers, including mobile operators, to review a draft cyber bill last week that will violate digital rights, privacy, human rights and rights to freedom of expression.

The proposed legislation will require internet service providers (ISP) to disclose user information to the authorities at any point without a justifiable reason or independent judicial authorization. The Irrawaddy has been told ISPs will be instructed to keep customer data – including internet protocol addresses, phone numbers, national identification numbers, addresses and activity history – for three years.

The chambers of commerce said the legislation does not align with international standards and regional regulatory frameworks.

ISPs may also be required to remove, prevent or destroy any content which may cause “hatred and destroy peace and unity”. Western investors said these terms are generally undefined in the bill and could be used be extensively.

The draft legislation was also condemned by the domestic business community.

Last week, the Union of Myanmar Federations of Chambers of Commerce and Industry said the cybersecurity legislation would be a major barrier to foreign direct investment.

It said the bill could affect the development of the digital economy and affect the direct flow of investment.

The Myanmar Computer Federation (MCF) said it opposed the bill as it violates freedom of speech.

It said the bill intends to take legal action against the public and businesses, rather than protect them from cyber threats.

IT-related business, including in education, e-commerce, banking, tourism and startups, will stop operations as soon as the bill is enacted, the MCF warned.

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