Telenor Myanmar backed away from a brewing fight with authorities, dropping resistance to an order to block access to more than 200 websites deemed to contain explicit content or misinformation after initially claiming it didn’t have a strong enough legal footing to do so.

In a statement, the operator explained it hesitated to take action against sites branded as peddling fake news, because it had been “unable to establish sufficient legal basis”. It argued its role is to “provide a telecommunications channel” and it does not “and should not select or alter the content of communications” over its network.

A Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC) order targeted 221 sites in total, though Telenor noted it initially only took action against 154 which its own assessment confirmed contained adult or explicit content.

However, “after further dialogue” with MoTC, it pressed ahead to block the remaining sites due to concerns its broader mobile services could be affected if it failed to do so.

It explained it will continue discussions with MoTC to try to limit the duration and scale of the block.

The country’s other operators, state-owned MPT, Ooredoo Myanmar and military-run Mytel, appeared to have complied with the takedown order, local media reported. They have not issued statements regarding the directive.