Burma’s Internet Shutdown Investigated by ONI

The Open Net Initiative (via John Palfrey) has, less than a month after the event, investigated last month’s internet shutdown in Burma. Palfrey writes that “the story of what they did, how, and when is fascinating, and upsetting, reading for anyone with an interest in the relationship between the Internet & democracy or the burgeoning citizens’ media movement.”

Among my takeaways, the concept of “trusted contact blogging,” the notion that improved surveillance may have been the rationale for the Net shutdown and the fact that citizen-journalism collected images may be used to track down protesters. From the report’s conclusion:

Burmese netizens, operating in a constrained and challenging space in a country with especially low Internet penetration rates, have demonstrated that the tools of information technology can have a strong impact on the global coverage of events as they are unfolding, and sometimes on the events themselves. The events in Burma also provide a chilling example of the limitations of the Internet, access to which was ultimately vulnerable to the unilateral choices of a repressive regime. However, even the vast majority of Burmese without access to or knowledge of the Internet may have benefited from the enduring achievement of a small band of citizen bloggers and journalists—the uploading of vital, relevant information to the Internet was broadcast back in via television and radio and spread through personal networks and communities throughout the country.

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