Myanmar post-coup: junta wanted spy equipment on the network
Telenor said yesterday that the Burmese military junta had asked it to install equipment to intercept communications on the network the Norwegian company operates in the country.
Telenor announced in July its intention to sell Telenor Myanmar, claiming only that since the February coup that toppled civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her government, it had become increasingly difficult to operate in the country.
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But yesterday he revealed that the junta wanted it to install surveillance equipment on the network with some 18 million customers.
“Telenor has not installed such equipment and we will not do so on purpose,” a company spokesperson said in a statement, noting that complying would violate Norwegian and international sanctions.
The company added that “operating such equipment in this situation would violate our values and standards as a business.”
It was not immediately clear whether the junta had made similar demands to other telecom operators present in Myanmar, including Qatari Ooredoo as well as local groups Mytel and MPT.
Telenor, which has had a commercial presence in Myanmar since 2014, said demand for the installation of surveillance equipment was one of the reasons for its decision to leave.
He reiterated that he believed the sale of Telenor Myanmar was “the least damaging solution” for the country.
But in July, 474 civil society groups in Myanmar called Telenor’s decision to step down as irresponsible, saying it failed to take sufficient account of the move’s human rights impact.
Telenor said it “is deeply concerned and saddened by the deterioration of the human rights and security situation caused by the military takeover, especially for the people of Myanmar.”
Telenor plans to sell its Burmese network to Lebanese conglomerate M1 Group.
The Norwegian company said it submitted the transaction documents in late August to Burmese authorities.