The military of Myanmar has renewed its efforts to ban the use of VPNs and cryptocurrencies. Although a similar measure failed in 2021, the new efforts by the Myanmar military junta may be gaining more support.
Those located in Myanmar may soon find themselves unable to use a VPN to connect to Facebook. The social media platform is used by many in Myanmar for inexpensive communication. Individuals would also be prohibited from using Bitcoin and other digital currencies.
Myanmar’s Opposition to Digital Currency and VPN
In Myanmar the military wields considerable power. It is able to suggest various measures that have an impact on existing law. Once such measure was approved by Soe Thein, a military communications secretary in January of 2022. The signing was followed by a period of public commenting which lasted until January 28, 2022.
Under the proposed measure, individuals caught using a VPN would face from one to three years in prison with a fine equivalent to $2,800 USD. The penalties for using cryptocurrencies are similar. The same fine applies, and the prison sentence is from six months to one year.
There is also an addendum to the bill which would require all VPN service providers to maintain and turn over logs to the military. This could mean that many VPN providers will choose to stop serving individuals in Myanmar. Reputable providers do not tend to keep or reveal user data to authorities.
The full implementation of these laws will result in nothing less than a complete Myanmar VPN ban.
How Individuals Use VPN in Myanmar
In Myanmar many individuals rely on Facebook as a communications platform. They use the service to maintain contact with friends and family that might be out of the country. It is a much more affordable alternative for most people because telecommunications can be very expensive in Myanmar.
VPN for messaging and other Internet activities also offers a measure of protection for those who are concerned with spying and data theft. When one is connected to an app or a service with a VPN, the ISP cannot observe the activities of the user. It can only see that the user is connected.
VPNs are useful in bypassing restrictions and blocks that are used to prevent access to certain websites. Like many other governments, Myanmar has been known to block websites and engage in Internet censorship. When a user connects to a VPN they are able to hide or obfuscate their actual IP address. It is replaced with the IP address of the VPN server.
Cryptocurrency Use in Myanmar
Bitcoin and other digital assets known as cryptocurrency are both popular and controversial. First introduced in 2009, Bitcoin has gone through various periods of highs and lows on its way to becoming an accepted type of currency. Many people use Bitcoin today to pay for services, but some countries remain opposed to the currency because of its decentralized nature. In short, Bitcoin has the power to let individuals circumvent banks and complete financial transactions with more privacy.
Myanmar has taken the position of some other governments by opposing Bitcoin on a regulatory standpoint. The government does not see the benefit in a currency that it cannot track or control. This is why it has sought to ban cryptocurrency in all its forms.
This ban would also mean that cryptocurrency exchanges in the country would not be permitted. This has also happened in places like China.
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