Presented by Gayani Hurulle at Myanmar Digital Rights Forum. 18 January 2019, Yangon.
LIRNEasia. (2018). AfterAccess: ICT access and use in Asia and the Global South (Version 1). Colombo: LIRNEasia
We launched the findings of our research on ICT accessibility for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in Myanmar on 21 August 2018 at ParkRoyal, Yangon. This was LIRNEasia’s first foray into systematically studying the subject, but will not be the last. Research from Nepal is to be released before the end of the year. We decided to embark on this study in Myanmar following questions on disability specific research from the audience at courses we conducted for Disabled Persons’ Organisations (DPOs) and Members of Parliament when we presented the findings of our broader research on ICTs in Myanmar. As a result, we conducted qualitative research with 101 respondents with visual, hearing and physical disabilities in May 2018.
Enabling the disabled - The role of ICTs in the lives of persons with disabilities in Myanmar. Research reprot by Gayani Hurulle, Dilshan Fernando and Helani Galpaya. Published August 2018.
Slideset presented at the report launch on 21 August 2018.
Both English and Burmese leaflets are available below:
Pew Research, based on the Global Attitudes Survey, reports that 22 percent of the adult population in India owned a smartphone in 2017. This finding mirrors the findings of our AfterAccess surveys conducted in India
Google alerted me that a new article had been published on Upgrading Myanmar’s internet connection by the well-funded and hyperactive A4AI. I had the alerts on because I’ve been working in Myanmar since 2012. I was surprised. The article reminded me of what the lawyers in the Attorney General’s Department in Sri Lanka call a balloon opinion. The words are there.
Hate speech on Facebook has been an incendiary issue. The latest action is unlikely to be received quietly. Nor is it likely to quell the problem completely. It banned the Buddhist nationalist movement Ma Ba Tha from its platform, as well as a pair of prominent monks known for stoking hatred towards the Rohingya. “They are not allowed a presence on Facebook, and we will remove any accounts and content which support, praise or represent these individuals or organisations,” said content policy manager Mr David Caragliano.
A trade publication, Satellite Today, has written about an agreement between a satellite provider and the Ministry of Transport and Communication of Myanmar. Under the new multi-year, multi-transponder agreement, Intelsat 39 will host both C- and Ku-band satellite services for Myanmarsat-2, which will enable the government of Myanmar to significantly enhance its existing network as well as the networks of other mobile operators and media companies. This will advance the expansion of affordable, high-speed broadband and internet connectivity to government agencies, businesses and communities throughout the country. It will also support and advance the MOTC’s goal of ensuring that 95 percent of its population will have access to broadband connectivity by 2022. By integrating satellite solutions into its own mobile networks, the MOTC will be able to dramatically increase its overall network bandwidth, speed and reliability as it expands 3G and 4G services into the more remote areas of Myanmar.
It appears that Myanmar’s universal service strategy has been finalized. Our work was represented in the draft that was put out for comments, but we made additional comments on that draft, which are here. Current mobile networks cover over 90% of Myanmar’s population, but the government believes the USF will be necessary to fund the development of network towers in unserved areas. Through the project the government is targeting 94% population coverage by the first quarter of next year and 99% coverage in the future. Once basic infrastructure is deployed to the rural areas, more advanced telecommunications services can be introduced in the future, the report states.
CEO Helani Galpaya was invited to speak in one of the panels at the Second European Multidiscriplinary Conference on Global Internet Governance Actors, Regulations, Transactions and Strategies held 26-27 April 2018 at Cardiff University, Wales. The theme of the conference this year was “Overcoming Inequalities in Internet Governance: framing digital policies and capacity building policies”. The conference was a peer-reviewed academic conference, but had two panels to which speakers were invited based on expertise. Helani spoke on the panel titled “Politics and Policy of Cyber Capacity Building” which had three other speakers: Emily Taylor (Chatham House), Panagiota-Nayia Barmpaliou (European Commission), Robert Collier (UK Cabinet, Foreign & Commonwealth Office). The panel was moderated by Andrea Calderaro (Cardiff University).
Social science trains its adherents to be cautious. The dictionary meaning of “to determine” is “to cause (something) to occur in a particular way or to have a particular nature.” We are very careful is ascribing causation, though it is of course of the greatest interest. Lawyers are said to use word like surgeons use scalpels. But the lawyers sent out on Asian missions by the UN appear to use words like meat cleavers.
We are inviting Proposals from potential Bidders to conduct a qualitative study on ICT accessibility for persons with disabilities in Myanmar. The full RFP is given below. Please also see our FGD Sampling Table, Technical Proposal Template, Financial Proposal Template, and Draft Contract before submitting the proposals. Deadline for submissions is 09 April 2018.
Hate speech is one area where our thinking was strongly influenced by work in Myanmar. I recall listening to a passionate presentation by Nay Phone Latt on the subject at an awareness program for legislators in Yangon and discussing the issues with Phyu Phyu Thi in relation to her research presentation at IGF in Joao Pessoa. When our researchers were on the field in Myanmar, the problems in the Rakhine emerged. This is a hard problem, requiring balance between prior restraint of speech and control of hate speech leading to violence. We will continue to engage with the topic.
Online hate speech has become commonplace in Myanmar. PEN Myanmar (2015) analysed posts from Facebook over a year, noting that the incidence of hate speech pertaining to a topic was often tied to a controversial, topical event– the appearance of posts regarding politics, for instance, increased during the elections held in November 2015. LIRNEasia and MIDO, along with Kantar TNS Myanmar, were on the field carrying out qualitative research in Myanmar in late August 2017 when conflict in the Rakhine region escalated. Many accounts revolved around the prevailing conflict came up in the interviews with 95 respondents in Yangon, Mandalay and Myitkyina. A few respondents openly expressed their displeasure regarding the situation, and spoke of how the posts they encountered online pushed them to want to incite violence.