Industry association the GSMA appealed to Myanmar authorities to restore access to internet services, expressing deep concerns over the impact of a connectivity deficit on people’s welfare.

In a statement, the GSMA argued a prolonged ban on internet access affects people’s health, education, social and economic well-being, and is “even more harmful” in times of a global pandemic when people rely on digital services “for their livelihoods and to access essential services and information”.

“Governments should only resort to service restriction orders in exceptional and pre-defined circumstances, and only if absolutely necessary” to achieve a “specified and legitimate aim consistent with internationally-recognised human rights and relevant laws”, the GSMA stated.

It emphasised the need for due process, oversight and transparency regarding the use of restriction orders.

The GSMA expressed readiness to work with the government of Myanmar, and any other country affected by network disruptions, to accommodate the restoration of services or mitigation of detrimental repercussions.

In a separate statement, Telenor Myanmar said mobile internet had been unavailable since 15 March, adding it was working to minimise the negative impact for anyone affected.

Myanmar officials previously shut access to internet services until 7 February following political unrest.