Google Chief to Visit Burma

By The Irrawaddy 11 March 2013

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, who earlier this year led a US delegation on a “private, humanitarian” visit to North Korea, will soon visit Burma, according to informed sources.

Schmidt, whose visit to North Korea along with former New Mexico Gov Bill Richardson in early January shone a spotlight on the reclusive Pyongyang regime’s strict controls over the Internet, is expected to travel to Burma before the end of the month, the sources said.

During the trip, Schmidt will meet with senior government officials, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and leading businessmen, the sources added.

Burma is one of the world’s least connected countries, with only around 1 percent of its people having access to the Internet.

However, the quasi-civilian government of President Thein Sein, who has ushered in a series of political and economic reforms since coming to power two years ago, has made expanding the country’s IT networks a national priority.

The purpose of Schmidt’s visit is unclear, but unlike North Korea, which continues to severely restrict public access to online information, Burma is seen as a potentially lucrative market for IT services.