Burma/Myanmar

The legal status and practical reality of VoIP services in Burma are currently in a state of flux mirroring that of the country's politics. Only two to three million people have mobile service; internet penetration, and particularly broadband penetration, is extremely low (only between 100,000 and 300,000 users by recent estimates. Under the Computer Science Development Law of 1996 and the Electronic Transactions Law of 2004, computers must be registered with the state telecom Myanmar Teleport (MMT); Service is provided by MMT and Myanmar Post and Telecommunication (MPT). Internet use is heavily concentrated in Rangoon and in the capital Napidaw; many access Internet through Public Access Centers (PACs) and internet cafes, both licensed and unlicensed. While data reporting requirements and surveillance on these access points is heavy and crackdown-prone, many cafes skirt these regulations.

Internet surveillance and censorship has been endemic in Myanmar in the past decade, and as recently as last year, VoIP services faced significant resistance from the Burmese government. The web portals for services like Google, GMail and Skype have been intermittently blocked by the main Burmese ISPs since 20006 in March of 2011, the ruling junta declared VoIP services illegal under existing telecom law, and initiated a crackdown of internet cafes that provided such services for a fee.

Recent (2012) trends towards some political and economic liberalization may change the legal and regulatory status of VoIP in Burma. As of April 2012, the government is considering a new telecommunications law that would open the Myanmar telecom market (including mobile and internet) to foreign competition. However, it is unclear whether these developments will affect the legality of VoIP services, and whether the government will continue to work to suppress them.

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