Myanmar’s government gained access to mobile subscribers’ metadata after requiring the country’s four operators to install intercept software on their networks months before a military coup on 1 February, Reuters reported.
In late 2020 state-owned MPT, Telenor Myanmar, Ooredoo Myanmar, Viettel-backed Mytel and the country’s ISPs were ordered to deploy a surveillance system granting the government access to their internal systems without seeking prior approval.
Sources told the news agency the spyware allows authorities to tap into calls, text messages and emails, and track locations.
The mobile operators have each previously issued statements noting they are required by law to follow such government orders.
Telenor flagged the request in December 2020, noting it was made under the guise of lawful intercept software and expressing concern it would provide direct access to operators’ and ISPs’ systems.
The Norway-headquartered company noted in a report the country doesn’t have the required laws to protect customer privacy and freedom of expression, Reuters stated.
Telenor booked an impairment of NOK6.5 billion ($786.2 million) on the Myanmar unit in Q1, citing a worsening economic and business outlook.
In March, industry association the GSMA appealed to the country’s authorities to restore access to internet services after the military ordered a shutdown.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back