Presented by Gayani Hurulle at Myanmar Digital Rights Forum. 18 January 2019, Yangon.
I first started talking about Facebook being the Internet for many people in our countries in 2012. But the story by Quartz is what really hit the big time. Now it is appearing in debates around the debate de jour: Should we all just leave Facebook? That may sound attractive but it is not a viable solution. In many countries, Facebook and its products simply are the internet.
All cultures and religions have prohibitions: Not eat these kinds of food; not do these things at these times, and so on. It used to be a requirement of membership. There was always some coercion involved. But it was more in the form of peer pressure, rather than outright coercion. Your behavior would be regulated by those within your own immediate community, rather than by distant authorities.
Data sovereignty, or the desire of states to exert unfettered control over data associated with natural and legal persons under their jurisdiction, was seen as an issue with the highest salience at a foresight event I participated in Bengaluru a few days ago. Several of us thought that the states will push for greater control in the immediate future and will be met with significant resistance from citizens and companies (varying across different kinds of data and different countries; health data may be easier than traffic data; states in big countries are more likely to prevail than those in small ones). We expected some kind of equilibrium to be achieved in around 5-10 years. The effort by law enforcement authorities in the US to compel Microsoft to handover the contents of email stored in Ireland and the case of the Great Firewall of China came up in discussion. Here is a discussion on recent developments in China: This is worrying not just for people who want to surf the web without annoying obstructions.
I’ve always had this fascination with the cellar dwellers. Those days, Myanmar was firmly ensconced in the second to last place, kept from the honor of being the least connected place by St Helena. But the 4,000 plus inhabitants have had mobile telephony since 2015. As of two weeks ago scheduled flights are landing in their brand new airport. And they are about to be connected to SAEx soon.
I was reading this report on a flight. The flight attendant was highly amused by the title: A cloud for doing good. What a weird title she said. Well, here is an answer from David Pogue to the question of what is the cloud? You may have encountered the Cloud as a synchronizing service.
We know workarounds. We’ve researched them, we’ve written about them. But this is in a class of its own: With no real money, and working in a dictatorship’s gray zone, the gamers have cobbled together a faster network with more services than anything this socialist worker’s paradise has managed to produce. I sit in mute admiration as Ian shows me clones of billion-dollar US internet entities. All of it existing in near-isolation from the outside world, just a hundred miles from the US.
LIRNEasia carried out qualitative research on user perspectives of Internet use in India among respondents from low and middle income households. It is a part of a series of research looking at the use of free and subsidised data in the developing world. The research was carried out with financial support from Mozilla, the UK Government’s Department for International Development, and the International Development Research Centre, Canada. India was an interesting case in the zero rating debate. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) passed the Prohibition of Discriminatory Tariffs for Data Service Regulations in 2016.
The consequences of throwing the kill switch on the Internet are set out in Gyanendra’s Law and its various exceptions. In this context, an interview with the editor of the Kathmandu Post who experienced the throwing of the kill switch in Nepal by King Gyanendra himself is illuminating: UA: What was the impact of the internet shutdown on the media? PP: It was very, very difficult. At the time, all our correspondents were using the internet to send news and it became very chaotic to manage the newsroom. We were not in a position to send reporters to events.
Expression of opinion is one of the things one can do on the Internet. We at LIRNEasia use it to communicate our evidence-based views. Our website is basically a blog. Evan Williams was a co-creator of Blogger and the largest shareholder of Twitter. He believes the model is broken.
LIRNEasia is carrying out research on the use of promotional and free data use in Myanmar and India. The results from our work in Myanmar have now been released. This piece of research was carried out with financial support from Mozilla, the Google Policy Fellowship program, the UK Government’s Department for International Development, and the International Development Research Centre, Canada. We found that differently designed zero-rated promotions elicited different behavioural responses from users. Noteworthy was that many respondents were unaware of content offered by MPT’s Free Basics other than Facebook.
The Global Commission on Internet Governance has just published a comprehensive analysis of the controversial zero rating practice and issues by Helani Galpaya. It includes findings from original research conducted in Myanmar and India and draws from secondary sources from Africa and Latin America. In developing countries where nearly all users pay for their Internet on a capped and metered basis (rather than having the “all you can eat” unlimited Internet data packages on offer in many developed countries), zero-rating — where data is offered that does not count toward the user’s data cap — is a subsidy that can be important to operators, content providers and users. Social media and text-messaging applications are among the content that is commonly zero-rated. For users, zero-rating provides an opportunity to save money because they bear no cost of the zero-rated data.
I always thought that composite indexes were unfair to India. However much India tried and whatever were its ICT achievements, they would all be diluted by the sheer number of Indians. The e Readiness Index that used to be published by the Economist Intelligence Unit used to be one exception. But then they stopped publishing it. Now the EIU is back with the new index and unsurprisingly, India does well in it too: 36th out of 75.
We commissioned a study on the Indian app economy back in 2013. The report was completed in 2014. One thing that study did not pick up on was the danger that governments could use the app store to control access to information. We were not alone in missing this critical implication: For more than a decade, we users of digital devices have actively championed an online infrastructure that now looks uniquely vulnerable to the sanctions of despots and others who seek to control information. We flocked to smartphones, app stores, social networks and cloud storage.
The fourth operator in the now mature Myanmar telecom market is Mytel. Sometime back I wrote about its secret sauce. In addition to confirming the use of military facilities, the company says that it will gain access to AAE-1 to ensure a good Internet experience for its customers. The Star High – MEC connection gives MyTel access to 1,000 towers and over 13,000 kilometres of fibre, plus other MECTel telecoms assets, thus transforming the viability of the business case for the new market entrant. According to an MPT spokesperson “As a general principle, the idea is to leverage MECTel’s assets, at least those ones that can be commercially used, as well as the existing subscriber base”.
According to Twitter, some people are without Internet in Bangkok today. Today's Tot internet failure from flooding wouldn't have been if only it were a mesh rather than point to point as @samarajiva has advocated — Don (@smartbrain) January 10, 2017 India is also supposed to have experienced problems with the Tata Indicom Cable connecting Chennai and Singapore. But they had back up options, running traffic through Bangladesh. The report below indicates that this resulted in higher bandwidth use (good) and a discernible degradation of Internet service quality (bad) for Bangladesh users. This is possibly because Bangladesh still primarily depends on SEA-ME-WE 4 to connect to the outside.