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Flawed law in Myanmar may cripple telecom sector growth

It appears that previously expressed hopes for a good law on telecom emerging from the recesses of Nay Pyi Taw were overly optimistic:

Information-technology experts and entrepreneurs have proposed amendments to Myanmar’s telecommunications bill that was made public last month. Khun Oo, president of the Myanmar Computer Federation, said the information and communications technology sector could develop rapidly, but it could also decline because of the new law.

Ye Yint Win, president of the Myanmar Computer Professionals Association, said: “According to Section 4 Article 7, every telecommunications services will need a licence. Web-development businesses, e-commerce businesses and individuals who want to sell their applications will also need licences. So [the law] needs to separate and identify the services that need licences and those that do not need licences, as it can harm freedom of creation and small enterprises.”

Chaw Khin Khin of MCC Groups added: “If Google doesn’t apply for a licence after the bill is passed, Gmail will become an illegal mail-service provider. The bill should encourage competition.”

Min Zayyar Hlaing, president of the Myanmar Computer Industry Association, suggested amendments to Article 64, as the provision prohibits individuals without licences from using an electronic apparatus. Under that article, “anyone who possesses or uses an electronic apparatus without a licence shall be sued and punished by up to three years in prison or pay a fine or both if his or her act is found [in violation]“.

He also criticised the bill for placing the regulating body under the control of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.

Full report.

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