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The most extreme example of such information controls occurred in 2007, when Burma’s international Internet connectivity was completely severed for two weeks following the government’s violent crackdown on widespread protests.
In addition to restricting opportunities for social mobilization, the Internet shutdown was widely viewed as a means of preventing videos, photographs, and news reports documenting the violent protests from reaching beyond Burma’s borders.
Also found blocked were gambling websites, online dating sites, sex education, and gay and lesbian content.
A number of sites categorized as “Internet Tools” were also found blocked, including web censorship circumvention tools like Proxify ( and filesharing services like the recently closed BTJunkie (
Testing showed that ISPs in Burma block content with an explicit blockpage indicating that the requested content is blocked and offering an email address to request the re-evaluation of the categorization of the page.
The block page identified during ONI’s 2012 round of testing can be seen in Figure 1.
Pornography was still widely blocked, as was content relating to alcohol and drugs.
Out of 132 total URLs found blocked, 104 belonged to the pornography and alcohol and drugs category.
While Burma remains a significant censor of a number of content categories, it has demonstrated a marked decrease in filtering of news and oppositional political content.
Only 5 of the 541 tested URLs categorized as political content were found to be blocked: It is not clear why these sites remain blocked despite the significant decrease in filtering of other political content.
Since ONI began testing for Internet filtering in 2002, the practice has become a de facto global norm, with over 40 countries found to have engaged in filtering of online content.
Reforms have also extended to the country’s strict information control regime.
Beginning in September 2011, reports from the country indicated that the historically pervasive levels of Internet censorship had been significantly reduced.