Brief Overview

The Government of Myanmar restricts expression in the realm of telecommunications through the Telecommunications Law (2013), fraught with vaguely worded provisions, including defamation. Another concern is the Anti-Hate Speech bill, which would criminalise the vaguely defined term: hate speech.

Telecommunications Law, 2013

Approved by the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw in 2013, the Telecommunications Law is seen as a harsh duplicate of the Penal Code in Myanmar. The said law was amended in 2017, which included reduced jail time and the exact amount of fines defined (not more than 1M MMK) but the most controversial clause, 66(d), remains. Section 66)d) only has 19 words, making the section vaguely worded and prone to abuse. The law allows anyone to file complaints; this mechanism is exploited by military officials through obtaining proxies to file charges for their own behalf. Numerous provisions also provide ground for warrantless search and surveillance, giving way to excessive police powers. The lack of an independent regulatory body is also problematic, as most cases are now perceived to be politically motivated. Justifications provided by government officials seem to lack ground: (1) the “defamed” need protection of the law so they could seek justice; (2) for societal stability; and (3) defamation clause in Penal Code not strong enough; and (4) online defamation is more harmful as it reaches wider audience globally.

The law can be accessed from the link below



5 July: After pressuring telecom firms, Myanmar’s junta bans executives from leaving

Senior foreign executives of major telecommunications firms in Myanmar have been told by the junta that they must not leave the country without permission

1 March: Myanmar coup: Suu Kyi hit with two new charges; accused of inciting public unrest, violating communications laws 

The ousted leader was already facing obscure criminal charges for possessing unlicensed walkie-talkies, as well as violating COVID19 restrictions by staging a campaign event during last year’s election.
She is now also accused of a violation of communications laws as well as intent to incite public unrest.

12 February: Myanmar draft cybersecurity law adds to protests over coup

A draft cybersecurity law due to be implemented in Myanmar has raised protests that it will be used to quash dissent rather than protect privacy. The draft law shows the military’s intent to “permanently undermine internet freedom in the country”


20 December: Myanmar Journalist Faces Criminal Prosecution For Routine Report

Aung Kyaw Min, a journalist from the Development Media Group (DMG), was filed by Myanmar authorities over his report concerning the need for repairs on a wooden bridge in the Rakhine state. He was filed with a defamation case under Article 66 (d) of the Telecommunication Law.

16 December: Jailed Satirical Performer Faces Extra Charge from Myanmar’s Military

A member of the Daungdohmyoset (Peacock Generation) troupe, which criticized the military in satirical performances, Ko Zayar Lwin, who was sentenced to 5½ years in prison by courts in Yangon and Ayeyarwady regions, was sentenced to a further year in jail by Maubin Township’s court under Article 66(d) of the Telecommunications Act.

7 December: Army Officer’s Daughter Jailed for Claiming Pressure to Vote for Military Proxy Party

Ma Thinzar Than Min, an army officer’s daughter who wrote on Facebook in September that she and her family were being pressured to vote for the military proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) ahead of last month’s general election, has been sentenced to nine months in prison with hard labor, for violating Article 505(a) of the Penal Code. Initially, the military also sought two more online defamation charges brought against her under articles 66(d) and 68(a) of the Telecommunications Law.

16 October: ‘Flicker of Hope’ Seen After Acquittal of Myanmar Writer Under Defamation Law

Eaint Poe Au, writing under the name Pencilo was acquitted of charges under Section 66 (d) of the Telecommunications Law, the country’s first acquittal under this legislation. Eaint Poe Au was charged in 2017 for Facebook posts critical of Myanmar military commander-in-chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and Buddhist monk Wirathu.

7 October: Ex-lawyer in Sittwe charged under telecoms law for social media posts

A former lawyer from the Arakan State capital Sittwe, U Thar Pwint, was charged at the township court under the Telecommunications Law’s Section 66(d), a notorious defamation provision, on October 7. The accusation stems from his social media posts about the deaths of civilians in Arakan State amid ongoing armed conflict in the region.

29 August: Social activist in Sittwe charged under Article 66 (d) for criticizing state government

Social activist Soe Naing was charged under Section 66 (d) of the Telecommunications Law, for four posts on his social media page written between 2019 to 2020. He was accused of writing false information with the intention of ‘discrediting the Rakhine State government’.

11 June: Satirical Troupe Face Extra Prison Terms for Ridiculing Myanmar’s Military

An estimated 25 members of the Daungdohmyoset (Peacock Generation), alleged to have criticised the military will be facing charges under Article 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law. The military earlier filed multiple lawsuits against the troupe for its performances, which they claimed had ‘undermined respect for officers, potentially encouraging a mutiny.’

18 March: Myanmar’s Military Ditches Irrawaddy and Reuters Lawsuits

The Irrawaddy’s Burmese edition and Reuters News Agency, U Ye Ni, were sued by Myanmar’s military under Article 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law for having Rakhine State media coverage on the fighting in Mrauk-U and the killing of civilians by artillery shelling. But then, the military has dismissed its lawsuit against both Media.


30 August: The Irrawaddy Senior Reporter Sued Under Myanmar Telecommunications Law

Irawaddy senior reporter Moe Myint was charged with online defamation under 66 (d) of the Telecommunications Law, for his coverage of a dispute involving owners of a hotel in Rakhine State and its foreign stakeholders.

29 August: Myanmar filmmaker jailed for one year after criticising military

Activist Min Hyin Ko Ko Gyi was sentenced to a year in prison for riticising and undermining the the military. He was initially accused of ‘online defamation under 66 (d) of the Telecommunication Act, and later charged under 505 (a) of the Penal Code.


20 April: Local CSOs and NGOs create coalition to advance efforts for repealing 66 (d)

Local and international groups launched a website to present individuals charged with online defamation, in efforts to review and reform the Telecommunications Law.


18 August: Myanmar’s Lower House Approves Minor Changes to Telecom Law

The Lower House of Parliament approved changes to the Telecommunications Law. This included a slight reduction in the maximum prison sentence from three to two years or individuals found in violation of Section 66(d).

Anti-Hate Speech Bill

The Anti Hate Speech Bill, submitted by The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture of Myanmar, aims to prevent “incitement of religious violence through social media, newspapers, and radio and television.” This law will criminalise hate speech and allow police to take legal action, with penalties amounting to two years in jail. “According to observers, one of the phenomena that created the need for such a measure is the presence of extremist Buddhist groups (such as the ‘Ma Ba Tha’ Buddhist movement, led by monk Ashin Wirathu), who have raised interreligious tension in Burmese society.” Some think the bill is not needed as there are previous laws already in place aiming to do the same, such as 66 (d) of the telecommunications act. Aung San Suu Kyi has reportedly made alterations to the draft bill. As reported in The Irrawaddy in Naypyidaw, “she has received feedback and suggestions from the international community.” Civil society concerns include the criminalisation of blasphemy, prioritisation of censorship rather than tolerance and pluralism, and vague and easily abused definitions.

The most available version of the Anti-Hate Speech Bill can be accessed from the link below



24 June: Rights group: Facebook amplified Myanmar military propaganda

Facebook’s recommendation algorithm amplifies military propaganda and other material that breaches the company’s own policies in Myanmar following a military takeover in February, a new report by the rights group Global Witness says

4 May: Myanmar Anti-Hate Speech Orders Aimed at Halting Discrimination Against Rohingya

The government of Myanmar has ordered all civil servants to stop using hate speech on social media, a persistent problem in the majority Buddhist country, nearly three years after soldiers and local militias drove more than 740,000 Muslim Rohingya into neighboring Bangladesh. Civil groups who have been fighting against hate speech welcomed the government initiative, but expressed doubts that the order is genuine, citing the government’s ongoing trial at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, the Netherlands.

4 April: Mya Aye, a Burmese activist and one of the leaders of the 8888 generation pro-democracy student activists in Burma has been charged with Hate speech (505)


04 May: Civil societies concern over the genuineness of the Myanmar Anti-Hate Speech orders to all civil servant

The government of Myanmar has ordered all civil servants to stop using hate speech on social media requiring them to monitor and report online behaviour to the central government. Civil society groups welcomed the initiative but expressed doubts that the order is genuine. The move came ahead of international hearings at the ICJ on the alleged genocide of Rohingya.


27 September: Draft hate speech bill sent to parliament

The Ministry of Culture and Religious Affairs confirmed on 26 September 2017 that the draft hate speech bill will be submitted to the parliament following discussions with civil society organisations.

3 April: Daw Aung San Suu Kyi Alters Draft of Hate Speech Law

State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi added her own provisions to the draft Hate Speech law.




17 February: IT associations call for amendments to Myanmar Cybersecurity Bill

Both E-commerce Associations of Myanmar and the Myanmar Computer Federation have called for amendments to the proposed cybersecurity bill as the current draft might impede the digital economic development of the country

12 February: Myanmar draft cybersecurity law adds to protests over coup

Myanmar draft cybersecurity law adds to protests over coup A draft cybersecurity law due to be implemented in Myanmar has raised protests that it will be used to quash dissent rather than protect privacy. The draft law shows the military’s intent to “permanently undermine internet freedom in the country”

11 February: Civil society, businesses condemn junta’s draft Cyber Security Law

In one of its first legislative acts, Myanmar’s new military regime is planning to enact a controversial Cyber Security Law that critics warn will put freedom of expression and user privacy at risk.

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