The Irrawaddy

New Body to Track Online Instigators Who Harm Govt, Sovereignty

NAYPYITAW — A Communications Ministry official said the government’s new Social Media Monitoring Team (SMMT) will keep track of instigation by foreign elements harmful to Myanmar’s government and to national sovereignty.

The body was formed on orders from the President’s Office in February to monitor the internet for people who use it to “harm the stability” of the country. The Union Parliament approved more than 6.4 billion kyats ($7.8 million) for its work in March.

“We formed the body as a preemptive measure to identify those who are harming our citizens, government and sovereignty,” U Win Khant, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Transport and Communications, said at a press conference in Naypyitaw on Tuesday on his ministry’s work over the past year.

Transport and Communications Minister U Thant Sin Maung told Parliament in March that the SMMT would identify those who instigate political instability on the internet and social media.

The SMMT will not intrude on people’s private lives, but will focus on cyber security to protect the interests of the country and the people, said U Win Khant.

“It is good if the monitoring body can ensure cyber and internet security. The security of ministries’ websites is also important,” said Ko Thiha, an IT technician.

In November, the Lower House approved a proposal granting the government the power to monitor the internet and social media for misuse.

The proposal, submitted by National League for Democracy lawmaker Daw Yin Min Hlaing, urged the Union government to look for uses of information technology that may harm the character and morality of youths and disrupt tranquility.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.