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Censorship Government The Internet Politics

Internet Blackout in Myanmar Stalls Citizen Report 185

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the for-their-own-safety-of-course dept.
StonyandCher writes "The government in Myanmar has reportedly cut off Internet access in the troubled country. The loss of Internet access in Myanmar has slowed the tide of photos and videos shared with the rest of the world but people outside of the troubled country continue to use new media sites and other technologies to protest military activity in the Southeast Asia country."
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Internet Blackout in Myanmar Stalls Citizen Report

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 29, 2007 @12:19PM (#20793945)
    Printer-friendly link [goodgearguide.com.au].
  • This, my friends.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Man On Pink Corner (1089867) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @12:25PM (#20793987)
    ... is exactly why you don't want to destroy the utility of the HF radio spectrum to sell it to broadband-over-power-line Internet providers.

    You don't want to put all of your communication eggs in one government-controlled basket.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      is why they said the revolution would not be televised.
    • by Vellmont (569020) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @01:27PM (#20794477)

      is exactly why you don't want to destroy the utility of the HF radio spectrum to sell it to broadband-over-power-line Internet providers.


      Right. Because we all know an oppressive government that's willing and able to cut off internet access to an entire country won't be able to send a couple soldiers to gun down the guy down the street blasting HF in his ham shack.

      I think violating government spectrum policy would be the last thing such a person would be worried about.
      • by MMaestro (585010)
        The difference is that the cost of running a ham shack is maybe power generator, $50 and a some haggling at a flea market. Running a HF radio isn't perfect, but compared to the alternative (that is, word of mouth) its far better than what they have now.

        Oh and in a country like Burma (aka Myanmar), violating government spectrum policy probably comes with penalty of death for you any anyone nearby the equipment.

      • by Deadstick (535032)
        Because we all know an oppressive government that's willing and able to cut off internet access to an entire country won't be able to send a couple soldiers to gun down the guy down the street blasting HF in his ham shack.

        And we are right.

        HF radio communication can be done with a few pounds of equipment in a car. It can be concealed by short, transmit-and-skedaddle operations, and even better by using spread spectrum, and with the right atmospheric conditions it can reach around the world with no infrast

      • by Agripa (139780)
        Compared with 6 meters and above, HF can actually be difficult to track down both because of propogation and because of the characteristics of the electrically small antennas that would normally be used for mobile hunting. A skilled operator might also take advantage of beam forming combined with skip to mask the transmitter's location. (I've done that sort of thing in transmitter hunts at 2 meters and above but skip gets replaced with reflection and refraction. The beam forming becomes much easier thoug
    • by vertinox (846076)
      ... is exactly why you don't want to destroy the utility of the HF radio spectrum to sell it to broadband-over-power-line Internet providers.

      From my understanding owning a non-approved two way communication device is illegal in Burma (much like North Korea). You might be able to smuggle one in, but you'll probably be shot fairly quick if they find it.
  • Time to start using pigeons (or smoke signals) to get information ... I wonder what sort of compression would have to be used to get a fairly good speed connection?
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @12:31PM (#20794031)
    The first thing an oppressive government usually does when unrest is rising is to make sure independent news and reports can't escape, so the only source for information is the official one. They actually took their time to do that, given that the civil war has started almost half a month ago.

    Well, maybe their astrologer said they should wait 2 more weeks 'cause then the stars are aligned or something.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by damburger (981828)

      I don't think your average autocratic police state is that tech-savvy - Burma is run by peope whose expertise lies more in the area of killing and torture.

      It may simply have not occurred to them to do this

      • by K8Fan (37875)

        Here is a YouTube clip [youtube.com] from a 1995 program called "The Internet Show" about the 1991 Soviet coup attempt [wikipedia.org], and the role the early Internet had as an information source.

    • by mikael (484)
      It does't take too much skill to figure out how to switch a router off, or to switch off the power supply to a satellite dish farm.

      Maybe there is some way a communications satellites could boost the signal so that ordinary mobile phones could be turned into satellite phones?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by raju1kabir (251972)

        Maybe there is some way a communications satellites could boost the signal so that ordinary mobile phones could be turned into satellite phones?

        No, that won't make it possible for mobile phones to transmit with the strength necessary to reach orbit, or to cope with the signal delay.

        One interesting tidbit: On the Thai side of the very porous Burmese border, you can go into any 7-Eleven and buy an AIS One-2-Call SIM card for as little as 50 baht (about US$1.50). AIS often run cheap deals [one-2-call.com] where you can get

      • Maybe there is some way a communications satellites could boost the signal so that ordinary mobile phones could be turned into satellite phones?

        The biggest problem with this idea is the doppler. Mobile phones are very bad at coping with doppler; if you are in a high speed train then you will have problems communicating with a tower that isn't perpendicular to your direction of travel. A satellite in a low enough orbit for a mobile phone to reach it would have to be moving very fast in terms of ground speed, which would be likely to cause problems. It might be possible to use a cell repeater in a spy plane, if you could persuade the USAF to lend

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      The Internet blackout happened in the 24 hours after the first violent repression. It has been fairly synchronized. Of course they claim that this is due to damages done to a submarine cable...
  • by kcpearly15 (1161509) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @12:31PM (#20794037)
    I guess this goes back to the idea that if you can control the information going to and from people, you can control the people themselves. It is really a statement of where the internet is today in terms of importance around the world. I would like to see if anyone from this country manages to make an "underground" makeshift connection to the internet. Also, does any one else find it interesting that the group forming together to protest for the rights of the monks is on facebook?
    • by gad_zuki! (70830)
      >Also, does any one else find it interesting that the group forming together to protest for the rights of the monks is on facebook?

      Not at all. Seems obviously typical for something college students (90% of facebook) to do.
  • by Langfat (953252) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @12:40PM (#20794115) Homepage
    I have never used a satellite internet provider, but I know that they do exist. Could someone on slashdot explain what is required for such service? I assume a modem which would be registered with a satellite provider. What is the feasibility of smuggling such things into Burma?
    • What about phone lines? Surely I'm not the only one old enough to ask whether people can dial out to international dial-up lines. It'd only take a relative abroad to hook up their broadband-connected PC to their old phone modem and unless your line is tapped it'd be just another phone call to the family.
      • by Bert64 (520050)
        The phone company (Myanmar Post & Telecom - http://www.mpt.net.mm/ [mpt.net.mm] normally, tho its down right now) is owned and tightly controlled by the government.
        They can cut off international phonecalls just as quickly as they did Internet.
        Aside from that, the cost of international phonecalls effectively cuts off all but the richest people over there, and those rich people tend to be part of the regime and have no interest in bringing it down.
        • Do they charge for incoming calls? If not, then it would be possible for people outside to dial in to their modems and act as a bridge to the Internet. Maybe one of the humanitarian organisations should start wardialing...
          • by Bert64 (520050)
            Well no, they don't charge the receiver of the call...
            But, they do charge international telco's for the privilege of routing calls into the country. And, i'm sure they have someone to monitor each call (their international line capacity isnt that high and wages are low, so its easily feasible).
            Also the line quality is very poor, a modem connection would be very unstable and slow.
    • by drspliff (652992)
      Traditionally with satellite internet systems you'd have a modem uplink with the download handled by a satellite reciever. However there are relatively new two-way systems (which I used when ADSL was not available in my area), but their prohibatively expensive most of the time (1000-3000 GBP in hardware & setup costs, plus ~100 GBP per month).

      I don't have any experience of what internet access is like in Burma, but in Cambodia it's expensive even before you take into account the average wage and satelli
    • There are plenty of ways around it, but governments do not care about expensive workarounds, or those that require technical knowledge. They want to stop the mass of the people from seeing things.

      I doubt the Burmese government cares much about us seeing the pictures, they want their own people to be not sure what is going on. They do not, for example, want people in other cities seeing the protests in Rangoon, and starting their own.
    • by Braino420 (896819)

      Could someone on slashdot explain what is required for such service?
      Is Google down? Wikipedia too? That just might be a sign of the apocalypse.
  • please... (Score:5, Informative)

    by joe 155 (937621) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @12:48PM (#20794193) Journal
    as someone mentioned before, call the country Burma. That's the name which signifies that you don't accept the legitimacy of the murders who have stolen the country and ruled over it for all these years.

    Also, I don't get the anti-bush tag, he seems to be doing a lot more than most to help the situation...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Vellmont (569020)

      That's the name which signifies that you don't accept the legitimacy of the murders who have stolen the country and ruled over it for all these years.


      Bah. Countries are as countries do. If you have the ability to act like a government, you're a government. It's pointless and counter-productive to play some dumb name game where you close your eyes and pretend reality isn't reality.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by butlerdi (705651)
      I do believe the name Burma came from when the British were the murders who had stolen the country and ruled over it for all those years.
      • by butlerdi (705651)
        Actually accounts are not really all that positive. As much as i hate to use it as a reference but ... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Myanmar#British_rule [wikipedia.org]

        A wave of strikes and protests that started from the oilfields of central Burma in 1938 became a general strike with far-reaching consequences. In Rangoon student protesters, after successfully picketing the Secretariat, the seat of the colonial government, were charged by the British mounted police wielding batons and killing a Rangoon University student called Aung Kyaw. In Mandalay, the police shot into a crowd of protesters led by Buddhist monks killing 17 people. The movement became known as Htaung thoun ya byei ayeidawbon (the '1300 Revolution' named after the Burmese calendar year)[2], and December 20, the day the first martyr Aung Kyaw fell, commemorated by students as 'Bo Aung Kyaw Day'.[3]

    • by Bert64 (520050)
      Actually, Burma is what the British called it when they invaded...
      The locals always called it Myanmar, and regardless of government would probably still have renamed it back after becoming independent from Britain.
  • Fucking Myanmar... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by danielsfca2 (696792) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @12:48PM (#20794195) Journal
    Isn't this shit sad? I mean, a tyrannical military government that nobody wants in power, who's abusing that power by willfully shooting civilians. Of course, our leaders don't give a rats ass beyond talking about how "concerned" or "saddened" or "disappointed" because Myanmar doesn't have any oil, or strategic position we can use.

    I'm not trying to say Iraq wasn't justified. It doesn't matter. Whether it was or not, I think Myanmar's military rulers need a good ass-kicking. And there's an ass we could kick overnight if we wanted to. Just bust in there to their headquarters and fire some automatic weapons at them just the same way they do to the innocent monks. That'll teach 'em. Throw in an election to put up a REAL government, and we'd be home by Christmas.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Err there already IS a real government and one with a Presedent-elect who is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

      The whole point of the protests is that the ruling junta never allowed her to take office after they won the election.
    • by Langfat (953252)
      Burma DOES have oil. Chevron (US) and Total (French) are two of the biggest benefactors. China, Russia and India all have billions invested as well. So long as the money keeps coming, no one seems to care who is in power or how they exercise it...
    • Throw in an election to put up a REAL government, and we'd be home by Christmas.

      They had an election, and the junta ignored the results and put the newly elected government under house arrest or killed them.

  • by sdedeo (683762) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @01:22PM (#20794439) Homepage Journal
    the American firm Fortinet [wikipedia.org], which runs the Myanmar Wide Web [wikipedia.org].
    • Actually, the government of Myanmar runs the Myanmar Wide Web. Software produced by Fortinet, but not administered, supervised or maintained by Fortinet, is used by the government of Myanmar to censor the MWW.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Slashcrap (869349)
        Software produced by Fortinet, but not administered, supervised or maintained by Fortinet, is used by the government of Myanmar to censor the MWW.

        Yes, you're quite right. Fortinet are only making money out of the situation and therefore should be entirely excused of any suggestion of wrongdoing. Likewise anyone selling arms to the Burmese government should also be excused because they're not the ones actually shooting monks in the fucking head.

        If you disagree with my comparison, please do feel free to let u
        • Don't look at me. I don't actually care that much about the issue. But if you're so convinced there is no difference, how about you explain why your computer is full of parts made in China, what with China being the Burmese dictatorship's major backer and arms supplier? Is there a difference, or have you convinced me that your hands are just as bloody as Fortinet's?
  • If we shut down Internet access in your region or country it's because we don't want that information to get free.

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