Operator Telenor vowed to continue resisting pressure to implement communications interception software in Myanmar, as it reasserted a commitment to exit the country due to a torrid political situation.
In a statement, Telenor explained it had tried hard to maintain its presence in Myanmar but remained committed to an exit through a deal to sell the unit to M1 Group, an apparent response to reports last week stating the operator faced government opposition to the deal.
Telenor noted strong will for it to remain due to its “demonstrated commitments to human rights, responsible business and international best practices”. Its decision to sell was taken after it became clear it is “no longer possible to adhere to these principles”.
Operators in the nation have been under pressure to implement the interception capabilities following a military coup earlier this year. In March, industry association GSMA warned of harm arising from a decision to block internet access.
Telenor has “worked actively to avoid activation of intercept equipment” and “will not do so voluntarily”.
The Norway-headquartered operator added it would not comment further on the government push for interception capabilities due to “concern for the safety of our employees”.
CEO Sigve Brekke took to Twitter to explain it was “impossible” to remain in Myanmar.
It’s impossible for us to stay in Myanmar due to our values, human rights, legal obligations and requirement to activate sanctioned intercept equipment for authority use. It’s been a tough decision to make and our thoughts are with the people of Myanmar.https://t.co/mjHDhjK3K2
— Sigve Brekke (@Sigve_telenor) September 15, 2021
Telenor added it sees a sale of the business as “the least detrimental solution for the Myanmar society”, because it will ensure continued connectivity and access to services ranging from banking to healthcare for “our 18 million subscribers”, while also securing jobs for its staff and the “broader value chain”.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back