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3 Years On, Myanmar’s Internet Service Blocking Results in $232 Million Loss

Dan York
Director, Internet Technology, Internet Society
Categories:
Shutdown
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February 6, 2024

For more than three years (1,095+ days), the government of Myanmar has blocked specific online services, resulting in a loss of almost USD $232 million, according to the Pulse NetLoss Calculator (Figure 1).

Infographic showing the loss in GDP (USD 232,721,482), FDI (USD 28,763,489)and increase in unemployment (683 people) for Mynamar due to shutdown.
Figure 1 — The three-year service-blocking shutdown in Myanmar has significantly impacted the country’s economy.

This is currently the longest service-blocking shutdown that Pulse is tracking. We started tracking the blocking on 2 February 2021, the day after a coup d’etat by the Myanmar military. Sadly, this blocking continues to this day.

Using measurements from the Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI), we can see that Wikipedia remains completely blocked, and services such as X/Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are all blocked to various degrees. In contrast, YouTube remains accessible!

Bar charts showing the accessibility of twitter, wikipedia, facebook, instagram and YouTube in Myanmar, per OONI test results.
Figure 2 — OONI Web Connectivity test for accessibility of popular web services in Myanmar. Source: OONI.

OONI shows the anomalies associated with service blocking in this Facebook Messenger test:

Bar charts showing the accessibility of Facebook Messenger in Myanmar, per OONI test results.
Figure 3 — OONI Web Connectivity test for accessibility of Facebook Messenger in Myanmar. Source: OONI

And in this similar chart for the WhatsApp test:

Bar charts showing the accessibility of WhatsApp in Myanmar, per OONI test results.
Figure 4 — OONI Web Connectivity test for accessibility of WhatsApp in Myanmar. Source: OONI.

Additional measurements from OONI show continued blocking of some news sites and those around political criticism.

You can see from the green on these charts that some communication is getting through (except to Wikipedia). On our page about this ongoing shutdown, we note that OONI’s research found this was most likely due to incomplete blocking of all the appropriate IP addresses.

As indicated in the Pulse Country Report for Myanmar, the Internet resilience score is low – and our partners at Freedom House rank Myanmar as “Not Free” (Figure 5).

Infographic showing the internet use (44% of population), Internet resilience Index score (45%) and Internet Freedom (0/5 stars) for Myanmar.
Figure 5 — Myanmar’s Internet use and resilience are rated below the average for Asia. Source: Pulse Country Report.

The Internet Society firmly believes that shutdowns and service blocking harm societies, economies, and the global Internet infrastructure. By our calculations, the actions of the Myanmar government have resulted in a loss of 660 jobs and USD $232,000,000 in GDP – money that could have gone to building their online economy and improving the lives of the people there. We sincerely hope this will change and that the government will #KeepItOn.


Photo by Saw Wunna on Unsplash.