Burma tops CPJ's "10 Worst Countries to be a Blogger." With the scheduled
general election in the country approaching, there have been
reports of growing interference with both
exiled journalists. As Burma enters the final stretch of the
campaign, CPJ's senior South East Asia representative, Shawn
Crispin, give me a brief summary of the online situation:
It does appear that the authorities are deliberately
slowing down Internet connections to make it more difficult
for journalists to file images and video over the Internet ahead
of the upcoming elections.
One foreign reporter I was in touch said she has had
increasing difficulty sending photographs out of the country from
Rangoon-based Internet cafes. She said there are concerns among
local reporters that the regime may shut down the Internet
altogether during the actual elections.
Burma's military junta learned lessons from the 2007
Saffron Revolution, when many undercover reporters sent
images and videos over the Internet to international and
exile-run news organizations. You'll recall then authorities
the Internet ahead of the army's armed assault on
Since then, the authorities have increasingly used the vague
and harsh Electronics Act,
which broadly bans the unauthorized use of electronic media,
including the Internet, to send information outside of the
country, to suppress and intimidate reporters who work undercover
for foreign or exile run news organizations.
Three Democratic Voice of
Burma (DVB) reporters have recently received harsh
prison sentences on charges related to the Electronics Act.
Another two await a court verdict in a a case they were charged
under the same Act, among others. This is clearly meant to send a
signal to reporters that they risk long jail sentences if they
send materials over the Internet, including critical news about
the upcoming election.