Category Archives: Technology

Facebook Fights Release of Records in Myanmar Genocide Case

A demonstrator observes a moment of silence during a protest outside the United Nations Building in Bangkok. (Photographer: Andre Malerba/Bloomber

(Bloomberg) — Facebook Inc. appealed part of a Washington judge’s order to turn over internal documents related to accounts that helped incite genocidal violence against the Muslim minority in Myanmar.  The company is challenging U.S. Magistrate Zia Faruqi’s September directive to release content from government-backed accounts that helped spark violence against the Rohingya Muslims, as well as related documents from an internal investigation into the platform’s role in instigating the Rohingya. 

Facebook said in a court filing late Wednesday that it’s willing to work with Gambia “to produce tens of millions to hundreds of millions of pages of relevant public information and non-content metadata to help” the case against Myanmar. But the company argued that Faruqi went too far in ordering the broad release of non-public information, including records from Facebook’s internal probe, in light of a federal law protecting the privacy and free-speech rights of internet users.

In his ruling, Faruqi found that most of Gambia’s request was permissible under the Stored Communications Act, the law Facebook invoked. “Locking away the requested content would be throwing away the opportunity to understand how disinformation begat genocide of the Rohingya,” Faruqi wrote.

Facebook argued Wednesday that Faruqi’s “sweeping and unprecedented ruling is inconsistent with the text and purpose” of the privacy law and would have “severe unintended consequences that go far beyond the facts of this matter.”

In a statement, Rafael Frankel, Facebook’s director of south and southeast Asia policy, said the company had already made voluntary disclosures to investigators and plans to share more information with Gambia. “We support international efforts to bring accountability for atrocity crimes committed against the Rohingya people,” Frankel said.

The role of Facebook in the genocide in Myanmar is well established. A 2018 report commissioned by Facebook found that the platform was used to incite violence against the Rohingya. That August, Facebook banned 20 organizations and individuals in Myanmar, including a military commander. In a statement accompanying the report, a Facebook executive said, “We can and should do more.”

By: David Yaffe-Bellany

Myanmar Junta Asks Telenor Executives Not to Leave the Country


The Norwegian telecoms firm is awaiting regulatory approval for the sale of its Myanmar operation.

Myanmar’s military junta confirmed that it asked executives from the Norwegian telecommunications company Telenor not to leave the country, pending the authorities’ approval of the company’s deal to sell its operation in the country.

In an interview with Reuters published yesterday, Aung Naing Oo, the military-appointed investment minister, said that the military administration wanted “to have discussions physically with some of the Telenor management.” He admitted, “It’s kind of a request not to leave the country.”

Aung Naing Oo’s comment confirms the claim, also reported by Reuters in July, that senior telecoms executives had been barred from leaving the country. The news agency reported at the time that Myanmar’s Department of Posts and Telecommunications had issued a confidential order in mid-June stating that senior executives of telecoms firms, both foreigners and Myanmar nationals, must seek special authorization in order to leave the country.

In his interview with Reuters this week, Aung Naing Oo said that the move only applied to Telenor, “not to foreign telecoms officials from all foreign telecom companies.” He said the restriction was in place because the junta “want to have discussions physically with some of the management in Telenor.”

In July, the Norwegian firm, announced the sale of its mobile operations in Myanmar to M1 Group, a Lebanese company, for the knockdown price of $105 million, two months after booking a loss of nearly $800 million on its investment. The company stated that “further deterioration of the situation and recent developments in Myanmar form the basis for the decision to divest the company.”

In addition to the severe deterioration in the business environment that followed the coup, the sale may also have been motivated by the junta’s attempts to force Telenor, along with the country’s other three telecoms firms, to implement special intercept technology in order to permit the authorities to spy on calls, messages, and web traffic.

Telenor reportedly resisted the requests to install the technology. In its May statement announcing that it was fully impairing its Myanmar operations, the company called on the military administration “to immediately reinstate unimpeded communications and respect the right to freedom of expression and human rights.”

The departure of Telenor, whose entry to the Myanmar market in 2014 symbolized the optimism of the political and economic opening then underway, points to the increasingly severe and challenging operating environment facing foreign firms.ADVERTISEMENT

The confirmation from Aung Naing Oo also comes amid similar reports that the military junta has begun to impose broader restrictions on departures from the country. According to a report yesterday by Coconuts Yangon, Myanmar citizens are being turned away from Yangon’s airport in order to prevent them from leaving the country. Citing travelers and tourist agencies, it reported that 17 travelers were blocked from embarking on flights at the airport last weekend. It cited an airport employee as stating that new restrictions have been put in place to prevent people from leaving the country.

For what exact reason one can only guess. But with Myanmar junta’s coming under increasing international censure, foreign nationals and capital slowly draining out of the country, and the popular resistance to the junta spreading, the country’s cloistered military rulers seem set on battening down the hatches, and returning the country to its close-woven cocoon of isolation.

By: Sebastian Strangio


Royal Australian Navy sailors throw heaving lines from a submarine returning to Fleet Base West near Perth, Australia, on March 19, 2020. AUSTRALIAN DEPARTMENT OF DEFENCE

The bloc is struggling to preserve unity—and can’t decide what to do about the new U.S.-China rivalry.

For about two decades after the end of the Cold War, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) enjoyed a golden age. The organization’s 10 member states as well as China and the United States saw the bloc as key to the region’s security and economic integration. ASEAN as a collective entity worked hard to put itself at the center of regional architecture through a complex web of security institutions and relationships. At the height of its golden age, ASEAN believed it was in the driver’s seat of the region’s fortunes.

That golden age is over. Last week, ASEAN, which usually needs unanimous agreement to function, was struggling to preserve unity. After an emergency meeting about the crisis in Myanmar on Oct. 15, the bloc excluded Myanmar’s junta leader from an upcoming ASEAN summit, a rare move for the organization. As a loose organization without a clear strategic vision of its own, it is floundering as individual members break ranks and realign in the new U.S.-China rivalry. The recent announcement of the new so-called AUKUS military and technology pact among Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States has raised the region’s geopolitical stakes even further, casting yet another spotlight on ASEAN’s strategic paralysis.

It wasn’t supposed to be that way. In one of the world’s most dynamic regions, a system led by either the United States or China would be untenable; ASEAN therefore made its virtue out of its desire to stay out of superpower conflicts. Because of its multilateral nature, consensual decision-making, and lack of strategic ambitions beyond its borders, ASEAN was seen as an honest, neutral broker. For the region’s diplomats, so-called ASEAN centrality—that ASEAN will speak for the region as a whole when outside powers are involved—became an article of faith.

In recent years, however, the edifice of centrality has crumbled. As former Singaporean diplomat Bilahari Kausikan argued, the great powers are fine with ASEAN centrality as long as it serves their interests. Individual member states have also made a mockery of the bloc’s unity by cutting their own deals with outside powers and blocking joint ASEAN action.

The first notable crack in ASEAN’s armor came in 2012. Cambodia, which held the organization’s rotating chair at the time, torpedoed an important ASEAN communiqué because drafts had mentioned the dispute between several member states and China in the South China Sea. Phnom Penh is seen to be closely aligned with Beijing.

But it’s not just China that’s working around ASEAN to achieve its goals. The Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy espoused by Australia, India, Japan, and the United States is a case in point. The strategy has innocuous-sounding principles: freedom of navigation and overflight, adherence to international law, and regional connectivity. But its power is it highlights principles China rejects. Most ASEAN members are maritime states and would strongly support these principles, but supporting the U.S.-led strategy publicly would rile China. For fear of enraging Beijing, ASEAN has struggled to take a collective position.

The same goes for the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue—known as the Quad and formed by those same four states—which ASEAN countries fear is another red flag to China’s bull. Although the Quad, innocuously enough, is working on tangible deliverables—such as vaccine delivery, climate measures, and emerging technologies—it can also bring power to bear in and around the South China Sea in the form of joint military exercises and training. In August and October, the four Quad members’ navies conducted maritime exercises in the Philippine Sea and the Bay of Bengal, respectively. As a testament to these drills’ growing importance, the United States announced plans to possibly include Britain’s Royal Navy in the future. That non-ASEAN powers in the region are moving forward in the critical area of maritime security highlights ASEAN’s failure to push back against Chinese assertiveness.

But nothing has shaken ASEAN as much as AUKUS. The new pact announced last month involves the United States and Britain supplying Australia’s navy with nuclear technology to power a new generation of attack submarines that could definitively shift the region’s balance of power.

By: William Choong, a senior fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute and the managing editor of Fulcrum, and Sharon Seah, a senior fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute and the coordinator of its ASEAN Studies Centre.


Facebook rejects request to release Myanmar officials’ data for genocide case

FILE PHOTO: A 3D-printed Facebook logo is seen placed on a keyboard in this illustration taken March 25, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo GLOBAL BUSINESS WEEK AHEAD

Facebook has objected to a request from Gambia, which has accused Myanmar at the World Court of genocide against the Rohingya Muslim minority, to release posts and communications by members of Myanmar’s military and police.

The social media giant urged the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Tuesday to reject the demand, which it said would violate a U.S. law that bars electronic communication services from disclosing users’ communications.

Facebook (FB.O) said the request, made in June, for the release of “all documents and communications” by key military officials and police forces was “extraordinarily broad” and would constitute “special and unbounded access” to accounts.

Gambia Attorney General Dawda Jallow told Reuters he was being briefed on the issue but could not yet comment.

The case before the United Nations’ International Court of Justice in The Hague accuses Myanmar of violating the 1948 U.N. Convention on Genocide. Myanmar authorities say they were battling an insurgency and deny carrying out systematic atrocities.

More than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state in August 2017 after a military crackdown that refugees said including mass killings and rape. Rights groups documented killings of civilians and burning of villages.

In 2018, U.N. human rights investigators said Facebook had played a key role in spreading hate speech that had fuelled the violence. Facebook has said it is working to block hate speech.

On Thursday, a spokesperson said Facebook “stands against hate and violence, including in Myanmar”.


End Unlawful Internet Restrictions

Three people walk along a road close to the surge of fighting between the Arakan Army and Myanmar military in Rakhine State, January 25, 2019. © 2019 Richard Sargent/AFP via Getty Images

Armed Group’s Landmine Use Doesn’t Justify Ban in Rakhine, Chin States

Three people walk along a road close to the surge of fighting between the Arakan Army and Myanmar military in Rakhine State, January 25, 2019. © 2019 Richard Sargent/AFP via Getty Images

Myanmar’s government should immediately lift internet restrictions in Rakhine and Chin States that have put civilians at added risk, Human Rights Watch said today. Government restrictions on the internet have hampered the coordination of aid, collection of accurate information, and monitoring of abuses.

The government has offered new reasons for its ban on mobile internet services, which affects more than a million people amid an armed conflict between government forces and the Arakan Army (AA), an ethnic Rakhine armed group. Myanmar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed in a statement to the United Nations Human Rights Council on June 30, 2020 and elsewhere on July 8 that the blackout was required, in part to “prevent the AA from exploiting mobile internet technologies to detonate IEDs [improvised explosive devices] and landmines.” Yet command-detonated landmines, such as those attributed to the AA, can be detonated remotely by various simple means, none of which require the internet, Human Rights Watch said.

“The Myanmar government’s latest excuses for its prolonged internet ban in Rakhine and Chin States are baseless and contrary to the reality on the ground,” said Richard Weir, crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Presenting these overly broad restrictions as necessary to stop landmine use callously deprives people of lifesaving internet access.”

The restrictions are in place in seven townships in Rakhine State and one in Chin State, where the government allows access to 2G networks, which only permit text messages, commonly referred to as SMS, and voice calls. 

The government first imposed restrictions on mobile internet communications in June 2019. The restrictions were temporarily lifted in some areas on September 1, but the government reimposed the restrictions on February 3, 2020, within hours after the AA announced that it would release evidence of mass graves of Muslims killed in Rakhine State by government forces during “clearance operations” in August 2017.

The mobile internet restrictions were subsequently removed in Maungdaw Township on May 2, 2020, leaving eight townships subject to the restrictions. On June 23, the military said there was no plan to lift the ban, despite an earlier Communications Ministry announcement that the internet restrictions were provisionally extended only through August 1.

The government had cited a “security requirement and public interest” in its order to telecom companies to reimpose the restrictions and later cited an escalation in fighting to continue them. The government also offered other rationales for the internet restrictions, including concerns about posting hate speech, nationalist sentiment, disinformation, and “military secrets” online. Justifications regarding hate speech belie the Myanmar government’s own promotion of nationalist and anti-Rohingya sentiment. In April, Facebook removed 22 pages and accounts tied to the Myanmar police force for anti-Rohingya content.

The Myanmar military previously raised concerns about the AA’s use of “remote-detonated explosive devices,” but had not tied it expressly to the internet restrictions.

Explosive devices can be designed or fabricated to be detonated by the presence, proximity, or contact of a person. Such victim-activated antipersonnel mines are prohibited internationally, regardless of whether assembled in a factory or improvised from locally available materials.

Explosive devices can also be made to detonate remotely. Command-detonated landmines constructed in Myanmar can be detonated by various means, such as long electrical wires to create distance between the device and the trigger, or by radio frequencies used with unsophisticated electronics, like a two-way radio, pager, remote car door opener, or cell phone. A simple timer can also be used to detonate an explosive device.

The Arakan Army has previously admitted to using “landmines” and “mines,” as well as “technology” to “carefully control” their use, but has denied using mobile internet technologies to detonate them remotely. Local media and the Myanmar government have attributed numerous incidents using such explosives to the AA, including while the mobile internet services ban was in effect.

In late 2019, Zee News, an Indian media outlet, said that Indian intelligence agencies believed the AA may be using Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to detonate landmines. Neither technology relies on mobile internet to operate.

Myanmar is not a party to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, which comprehensively prohibits antipersonnel mines. According to the annual Landmine Monitor report, Myanmar is the only country whose government forces still use antipersonnel mines, while non-state armed groups in Myanmar and other countries also use them, usually improvised mines.

The Myanmar government and all armed groups should immediately end the use of antipersonnel landmines, Human Rights Watch said. The Myanmar government should also ratify the Mine Ban Treaty.  

The mobile internet restrictions in Myanmar, imposed under article 77 of Myanmar’s Telecommunications Law, authorizes the Ministry of Transport and Communications to order the suspension of a telecommunications service or to restrict certain forms of communication during “an emergency” situation. The broadly worded law should be amended to bring it in line with international standards on freedom of expression, Human Rights Watch said.

In maintaining the blanket shutdown, Myanmar is contravening international human rights standards that require internet-based restrictions to be both necessary and proportionate. The UN Human Rights Council has condemned measures by governments to prevent or disrupt online access and information, and called for free speech protections under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

In a 2015 Joint Declaration on Freedom of Expression and Responses to Conflict Situations, UN and regional organization experts said: “Using communications ‘kill switches’ (i.e. shutting down entire parts of communications systems) can never be justified under human rights law.” UN freedom of expression experts have said that during crises, governments should refrain from blocking the internet and, as a matter of priority, ensure immediate access to the fastest and broadest possible internet service.  

The prolonged and disproportionate internet shutdown is also a form of collective punishment against the affected population, since it hinders access to information and communications that are needed for daily life and that are particularly vital during times of conflict and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fighting between Myanmar government forces and the AA in Myanmar’s Rakhine and Chin States escalated in November 2018. The scale and intensity of the conflict has continued to grow, with reports of nearly 1,000 civilian casualties since the conflict began and hundreds of structures burned during 2020 alone. As of July 6, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that over 80,000 people were displaced from the fighting throughout Rakhine and Chin States, while local groups told Human Rights Watch that the number of people displaced since 2019 is closer to 200,000. Many civilians, primarily ethnic Rakhine, have been forced to flee multiple times. Sources on the ground alleged that both the Myanmar military and the AA have restricted humanitarian aid from reaching civilians in need.

On June 24, the government announced new “clearance operations” in Rakhine State in Kyauk Tan and Rathedaung townships and ordered civilians to leave the area. Although the order to leave was subsequently rescinded, thousands of people were displaced as the clearance operations proceeded in five villages, media reported. Clearance operations were previously used to describe the multiple military deployments in Rakhine State in 2016 and 2017 that were characterized by widespread atrocities by government forces against the Rohingya.

“The conduct of the Myanmar military and AA continues to imperil civilians,” Weir said. “Myanmar’s government should end its ham-fisted, punitive restrictions on civilians, including its unjustified ban on mobile internet services.”


Myanmar: End World’s Longest Internet Shutdown

Lift Restrictions in Embattled Rakhine, Chin States

A telecommunications tower in Mrauk U township, Rakhine State, where the Myanmar government has imposed an internet blackout.  © 2018 Phyo Hein Kyaw/AFP/Getty Images

(Bangkok) – The Myanmar government should immediately lift all internet restrictions in eight townships in Rakhine and Chin States, Human Rights Watch said today. The mobile internet shutdown, which began on June 21, 2019, is affecting more than a million people living in a conflict zone.

The internet shutdown, along with restrictions on access by aid agencies, has meant that people in some villages are unaware of the Covid-19 outbreak, humanitarian workers told Human Rights Watch. Local groups report that the shutdown has made it difficult to coordinate the distribution of aid to conflict-affected communities, and to communicate with their field teams to ensure staff safety. A local editor said the shutdown greatly impedes media coverage of the fighting between the Myanmar military and the ethnic Arakan Army, making it hard for villagers to get up-to-date information.

“Myanmar should immediately end what is now the world’s longest government-enforced internet shutdown,” said Linda Lakhdhir, Asia legal adviser at Human Rights Watch. “With armed conflict between the Myanmar military and Arakan Army in Rakhine State amid a pandemic, it’s critical for civilians to get the information needed to stay safe.”

The government first imposed restrictions on mobile internet communications in the townships of Buthidaung, Kyauktaw, Maungdaw, Minbya, Mrauk-U, Myebon, Ponnagyun, and Rathedaung in Rakhine State and Paletwa township in Chin State. The government temporarily lifted restrictions in five townships from September 2019 until February 2020, when they were reinstated. On May 2, the authorities lifted the restrictions in Maungdaw.

On June 12, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications announced the government would extend the internet shutdown until at least August 1 in the remaining eight townships, citing security concerns. “We will restore internet service if there are no more threats to the public or violations of the telecommunications law,” said Soe Thein, the ministry’s permanent secretary, at a media briefing.

Article 77 of Myanmar’s Telecommunications Law authorizes the Ministry of Transport and Communications to suspend a telecommunications service or restrict certain forms of communication during “an emergency” situation. The broadly worded law should be amended to bring it in line with international standards to protect freedom of expression, Human Rights Watch said.

Internet access plays a crucial role in enabling people to access information about Covid-19 and self-quarantine, and to observe other protocols to prevent the spread of the virus. A coalition of nongovernmental organizations has appealed to the World Health Organization (WHO) to urge Myanmar to end the internet shutdowns amid the pandemic. Intentionally shutting down or restricting access to the internet violates multiple rights in addition to freedom of expression, and undermines efforts to control the virus.

Aid groups told Human Rights Watch they feared that shortages of food and water were underreported in many villages in Chin and Rakhine States due to the communications blackout. They also said that in some communities, family members had not been able to send digital payments or contact friends and relatives in conflict areas. Since January 2019, hundreds of civilians have been killed and about 106,000 displaced by the fighting between the military and the Arakan Army.

Internet restrictions have also made it more difficult for the news media to safely gather information and promptly disseminate it. “It is affecting not just the daily activity of our reporting but also for getting news and fact-finding,” said Aung Marm Oo, editor of the Sittwe-based Development Media Group. “Even though our reporters went to conflict-affected areas and interviewed reliable sources, it is difficult to send the material back to the office because they don’t have internet access.”

In addition to the mobile internet, the Myanmar authorities have ordered the blocking of websites of independent and ethnic news media, among many other sites. Between March 19 and May 11, telecommunications operators and internet service providers received five directives from the Transport and Communications Ministry under article 77 of the Telecommunications Law to block 2,172 specific websites, of which 92 were alleged to provide “fake news.” Independent and ethnic media sites such as Development Media Group, Narinjara News, Karen News, and Voice of Myanmar were among those ordered blocked.

The Myanmar government should stop blocking media websites, Human Rights Watch said. State-mandated blocking of entire websites is an extreme measure that can only be justified as the least intrusive measure to protect a legitimate public interest. A broad claim that the sites are posting inaccurate news does not provide justification for blocking the websites in their entirety and indefinitely. The government has not made public any of the directives ordering internet shutdowns or blocking of websites.

The government contends that the mobile internet shutdown does not disrupt the dissemination of information because people in affected areas can use mobile SMS services and public address systems to receive government information. The internet can also be accessed in some locations via fixed connections.

However, the vast majority of internet users across Myanmar use mobile data – through cell phones – to access the internet, which provides more opportunity for people to access information quickly, particularly during crisis and conflict situations. A 2019 survey by Myanmar Survey Research found that while half the total population used the internet, of those users, all accessed the internet via their mobile devices.

The internet shutdown has also hampered monitoring of the extremely vulnerable ethnic Rohingya population in Rakhine State. In January, the International Court of Justice ordered the government to protect the Rohingya from genocidal acts.

Under international human rights law, Myanmar has an obligation to ensure that internet-based restrictions are provided by law and are a necessary and proportionate response to a specific security concern. Officials should not use broad, indiscriminate shutdowns to curtail the flow of information or to harm people’s ability to freely assemble and express political views.

The United Nations Human Rights Council has condemned measures by governments to prevent or disrupt online access and information and called for free speech protections under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In a 2015 Joint Declaration on Freedom of Expression and Responses to Conflict Situations, UN and regional organization experts said, “Using communications ‘kill switches’ (i.e. shutting down entire parts of communications systems) can never be justified under human rights law.” During crises, governments should refrain from blocking the internet and, as a matter of priority, ensure immediate access to the fastest and broadest possible internet service.

In January, UN human rights experts said in Myanmar, “The blanket suspension of mobile internet cannot be justified and must end immediately.”

“For a year now, the internet shutdown has severely impacted the rights of over a million people in Rakhine and Chin States,” Lakhdhir said. “The government should lift the shutdown, unblock websites, and amend the Telecommunications Law to bring it in line with international standards.”

SK Telecom sends cyber experts to Myanmar amid national SOC development

South Korean provider also targets expansion through Vietnam and Thailand

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) of Myanmar has moved to bolster cyber prevention and defence capabilities through a security-focused partnership with SK Telecom.

Terms of the contract will see the South Korean provider deploy a team of cyber security specialists to Myanmar to consult on the “design and establishment” of a security operation centre (SOC) at the government agency until the end of July.

Leveraging SK Telecom’s ‘Smart Guard’ solution, the team will attempt to diagnose security vulnerabilities within NCSC’s existing cyber security infrastructure, alongside offering infrastructure security management guidance and advice.

This is in addition to the provision of SIEM (security information and event management) offerings developed by Korean security specialist Igloo Security. The solution will “collect and analyse” information – such as logs, errors and hacking – generated by diverse systems including servers, network equipment and applications.

“We are pleased to establish our SOC with SK Telecom’s advanced technology and know-how in infrastructure security,” said Ko Ye Naing Moe, director of NCSC. “We will work closely with SK Telecom to better protect Myanmar’s national intelligence and intelligence resources.”

Operating as an agency under the Ministry of Transport and Communications in Myanmar, NCSC is tasked with safeguarding national intelligence against cyber threats, including hacking and distributed denial-of-service (DDos) attacks, as well as protecting the nation’s information and communication networks.

“SK Telecom will work closely with the NCSC to build a sophisticated security operation system in Myanmar to strengthen its protection against the ever-increasing cyber threats,” said Shim Sang-soo, vice president of Infra Business at SK Telecom. “Going forward, armed with strong cyber security capabilities, we will seek further business opportunities in other Asian markets.”

Following the export of services to Myanmar – which Sang-soo said serves as a “strategic hub” connecting the emerging ASEAN markets – SK Telecom expects to expand security reach across other Southeast Asian countries, including Vietnam and Thailand.


Bamboo Technology Park : Inaugurated by the Chief Minister of Assam in Guwahati

Mr Sarbananda Sonowal
Assam Chief Minister Mr. Sarbananda Sonowal

The North-East of India is considered a paradise abound with unique and exquisite natural resources. Recently, Bamboo Technology Park was instituted at Chaygaon in Assam with an investment of Rs. 62.28 crore.

Bamboo is an abundant and a highly valued natural resource found in the North-East of India, particularly in Assam. Its anti-erosional and renewable property makes it a multipurpose resource. Due to its varied usage, it is copiously cultivated in the homesteads, village gardens, and agricultural lands and even in the field boundaries.

While inaugurating the Bamboo Technological Park in the vicinity of Guwahati, Chief Minister of Assam, Mr. Sonowal stated, “There are hundreds of MSME’s that produces incense sticks and bamboo handicraft products. Two very large paper plants are in Assam that uses bamboo as the raw material.”

The park has been equipped with the modern Common Facility Centre for producing creative and innovative bamboo products. The facilities include vacuum pressure treatment plant, bamboo stick and resin making facility, to name a few.

The cumulative efforts of private entrepreneurs, the Assam Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC), and the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion helped in establishing the Bamboo Technology Park, with the view to ensure optimum utilization of bamboo at the commercial level.

BSNL to Connect all Assam GPS through Optical Fiber in 2017-18

BSNL Office

Influx of new digital ventures or giving digital makeover to old and traditional structures, India, subtly yet swiftly is becoming part of a smart culture. The most recent sector to embrace this innovative change is India’s most venerable telecom service provider – BSNL.

With the intent to empower rural connectivity and development, optical fiber has been laid in gram panchayats of Assam by BSNL. Easy accessibility to television, internet and telephone through a single point will enable youth to be academically inclined and become literate in a manner, more direct and digital. Target of one lakh people becoming part of this electronic revolution has been targeted for 2020.

Under the probable plan, about 1500 gram panchayats shall be covered under this scheme; 70 % of the total gram panchayats in the state of Assam. Along with that multiple WiFi hotspots spanning through the optical fiber route have also been installed.

The whole arrangement is tantamount to elevation of rural conditions for education and business. Trickling down technological know-how to the lowest tier in the society is a mark of growth and development.

Telenor Shifts Myanmar Focus to Internet Services


As the era of rapid telecom subscriber growth in Myanmar has ended, one of the chief operators in the country, the Norwegian telecoms company Telenor, will now focus on improving its internet services. Myanmar’s telecoms sector was liberalized in 2011 and soon after that Telenor established itself as the number 2 player in the market with 18 million subscribers. The initial phase saw tremendous growth in the telecom sector with various companies competing to get more customers. However, now that the growth phase has subsided, focus has shifted towards providing better data services. Most people in Myanmar who wanted a SIM card have already obtained it and now the companies are competing to retain existing customers rather than targeting on getting new ones who have never used a cellphone before.

In Myanmar there are no fixed line alternatives available to most people and many people don’t even own a computer. Therefore, people are jumping at the chance to be able to access the internet through their smartphones. Facebook, WhatsApp and Viber are already extremely popular in the country. Main competitors of Telenor are Qatar’s Ooredoo and Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) which has partnered with Japan’s KDDI Corp in order to improve its services. According to estimates, MPT has 21 million customers while Ooredoo has 9 million subscribers. Telenor is 3 million customers behind MPT and for in the third quarter this year,5.3 percent of its worldwide revenue came from Myanmar. Around 40 percent of this revenue came from data services while the remaining 60 percent was from voice calls and text messages.