Network data from the NetBlocks Internet Observatory indicate the onset of widespread internet disruptions in Myanmar on Sunday 31 January 2021 (UTC) amid reports of a military uprising and the detention of political leaders including Aung San Suu Kyi.
The telecommunication disruptions beginning approximately 3:00 a.m. Monday morning local time have significant subnational impact including the capital and are likely to limit coverage of events as they take place. Continuing disconnections have been monitored with national connectivity falling initially to 75% and subsequently 50% of ordinary levels by 8:00 a.m. local time.
Update: Internet connectivity in #Myanmar has fallen to 50% of ordinary levels as of 8:00 a.m. local time amid an apparent military coup and the detention of civilian leaders; pattern of disruption indicates centrally issued telecoms blackout order 📵
— NetBlocks (@netblocks) February 1, 2021
Technical data show cuts affecting multiple network operators including state-owned Myanma Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) and international operator Telenor, with preliminary findings indicating a centrally ordered mechanism of disruption targeting cellular and some fixed-line services, progressing over time as operators comply.
Findings are corroborated by users on the ground and journalists who describe being unable to get online and a simultaneous loss telephone connectivity. Geographic indicators from the observatory suggest that outlying regions of the country and technical infrastructure may be less affected.
The incident has been described by sources as a military coup following an escalating standoff with the country’s civilian leadership, days after military chief General Min Aung Hlaing stated that the country’s constitution could be revoked.
Update: Some cellular connectivity has been restored as of noon Monday, but many users remain offline and it remains unclear whether the partial restoration will be sustained:
Update: Internet service in #Myanmar has been partially restored as of midday with users learning of a new political landscape and year-long state of emergency declared by the military; network data show connectivity back up to 75% of ordinary levels 📈
— NetBlocks (@netblocks) February 1, 2021
Update: 3 February 2021 UTC: Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and some WhatsApp servers are now restricted in Myanmar on state-run internet provider MPT. Meanwhile, metrics indicate that the restrictions are also coming into place on Telenor and other providers.f
Real-time metrics show selective filtering in place limiting usage of Facebook’s products even as basic network connectivity is restored. Users report having to resort to VPN tools that can circumvent internet censorship to access the impacted online platforms:
Update: Facebook products are now restricted on multiple internet providers in #Myanmar as operators comply with an apparent blocking order.
Data show variations by provider, with MPT targeting a wider range of the company's services than Telenor 📉
— NetBlocks (@netblocks) February 3, 2021
As of evening Thursday 4 February local time, technical data from the NetBlocks Internet Observatory confirm Facebook is restricted on most major providers. Findings show variations in implementation of the military ban, with some companies restricting access the Facebook website and others blocking the wider suite of Facebook products and mobile applications:
⚠️ Update: Network data show Facebook products now blocked across the board by major internet operators in #Myanmar; findings indicate significant variation in implementation as military compels companies to comply with banning order following coup 📉
— NetBlocks (@netblocks) February 4, 2021
Update: Network data confirm the restriction of Twitter on Myanmar’s leading network operators as of 10:00 p.m local time, Friday 5 February. The new restrictions follow the blocking of the country’s most popular social media platform Facebook earlier this week.
Metrics indicate that operators MPT, Mytel, Welink, 5BB and Frontiir were first to be impacted beginning approximately 10:00 p.m. local time, with Telenor losing Twitter service some hours later:
⚠️ Confirmed: Twitter is now being restricted in #Myanmar on multiple network providers; real-time network data show loss of service from ~10:00 p.m. local time with operators MPT, Mytel, Welink, 5BB and Frontiir 📉
— NetBlocks (@netblocks) February 5, 2021
Update: Saturday, 6 February 2021: Myanmar is entering a second nation-scale internet blackout as of approximately 10:00 a.m. Saturday local time. Real-time network data show national connectivity falling to 54% of ordinary levels as users on major network providers report difficultly getting online.
Worsening disruption has been observed through afternoon, with connectivity collapsing to just 16% of ordinary levels by 2:00 p.m. local time, attributed to a combination of technical restrictions as well as apparent power cuts.
The incident comes amid a wave of protests against the military uprising. Metrics from the observatory indicate similar magnitude to disruptions tracked during the initial military uprising, with high impact to cellular networks:
Update: A near-total internet shutdown is now in effect in #Myanmar.
Network data show a collapse of connectivity to 16% of ordinary levels from ~2 pm local time 📉
The information blackout is likely to severely limit coverage of anti-coup protests 📵
— NetBlocks (@netblocks) February 6, 2021
The internet shutdown has continued into Sunday. As crowds gather for a second day of anti-coup protests, real-time network data show the country remains in the midst of a nation-scale internet blackout with national connectivity flatlining at just 14% of ordinary levels.
A partial restoration of network connectivity was confirmed from 2 p.m. although metrics indicated that social media platforms remained restricted for most users. This has progressed toward a more complete recovery by midnight.
ℹ️ Update: Partial restoration of internet connectivity confirmed in #Myanmar from ~2 pm local time on multiple providers following information blackout. However:
➡️ It remains unclear if restoration will be sustained
➡️ Social media remain blocked
— NetBlocks (@netblocks) February 7, 2021
A week after the onset of internet disruptions in #Myanmar amid a military coup and detention of civilian leaders, connectivity has returned to 95% of ordinary levels. However, social media remain restricted for many and the situation remains tense 🗓
— NetBlocks (@netblocks) February 7, 2021
15 February 2021: Near-total Internet blackout in Myanmar
A near-total internet shutdown is in effect in Myanmar as of 1 a.m. local time Monday 15 February 2021. Real-time network data show national connectivity at just 14% of ordinary levels, in the third registered state-ordered information blackout brought implemented since the military coup.
Update: Internet connectivity is being restored in #Myanmar from 9 am local time; network data show national connectivity rising to ordinary levels after information blackout; social media still restricted for most users; incident duration ~8 hours 📈
— NetBlocks (@netblocks) February 15, 2021
16 February 2021: Second night of curfew-style Internet shutdowns in Myanmar
Myanmar has again been in the midst of a near-total internet shutdown as of 1 a.m. local time, Tuesday 16 February 2021. Network data showed connectivity at around 15% of ordinary levels for a second night as concerns have grown over public safety following the military coup, with connectivity returning as of 9 a.m.:
Update: Internet service in #Myanmar has been restored from 9 AM local time after a second night under internet curfew leaving residents offline and without a voice following the military coup; incident duration 8 hours 🕒📈
— NetBlocks (@netblocks) February 16, 2021
17 February 2021: Third night of Internet curfew in Myanmar
Myanmar has experienced another eight-hour internet shutdown from 1 a.m. local time, Wednesday 17 February 2021, the third consecutive night of national internet curfews:
ℹ️ Update: Internet access has been restored in #Myanmar as of 9 am local time after a third night under post-coup internet curfew.
Network data show national connectivity returning after the 8 hour shutdown, although social media remain restricted 📈
— NetBlocks (@netblocks) February 17, 2021
Thursday, 18 February 2021: Fourth night of Internet curfew in Myanmar
Myanmar has experienced a new nation-scale internet shutdown between 1 a.m. and 9 a.m., Thursday 18 February 2021 local time. The fourth consecutive night under national internet curfew has had near-total impact, with indications that some operators endeavoured to shut down service later than stipulated by the military. Service restrictions remain in place even as connectivity is being restored.
ℹ️ Update: Internet service in #Myanmar has been resumed from 9 am local time, after a fourth night under internet curfew 📈
The practice is detrimental to public safety and incites confusion, fear and distress in difficult times.
Duration ~8 hours 🕒
— NetBlocks (@netblocks) February 18, 2021
Blocking of Wikipedia in Myanmar on 18 February 2021
From Thursday morning, the Wikipedia online encyclopedia has been added to the growing list of platforms restricted on major network operators upon order of the military junta.
NeBlocks metrics indicate that all language editions, as well as associated websites including Wikidata and the Wikimedia Foundation’s corporate presence are restricted on most of the country’s major network providers. The restrictions are targeted and are distinct from general outages and disruptions tracked during the reporting period.
While no basis has been supplied by authorities, the restriction of Wikipedia comes as the military government outlaws the use of certain words in reference to the coup d’état and opposition movement. At the time of writing there are also indications of an “edit war” on the Wikipedia article for military ruler General Min Aung Hlaing in relation to his title and career.
Confirmed: #Myanmar has blocked all language editions of the Wikipedia online encyclopedia, part of a widening post-coup internet censorship regime imposed by the military junta 📚
Network data show restriction in effect on major providers.
— NetBlocks (@netblocks) February 19, 2021
— Myanmar Wikipedia (@myWikipedia) February 19, 2021
Monday, 15 March 2021: Mobiles left disconnect after 29th night of internet shutdowns
Internet has been cut between 1:00 am and 6:30 am local time. However, technical analysis reveals that cellular networks remain disabled despite the return of observable national connectivity, leaving many users unable to communicate:
— Bernard Hibbitts (@bernardhibbitts) March 15, 2021
Tuesday, 16 March 2021: Mobile data left disconnect for 2nd day after 30th night of internet shutdowns
Confirmed: Fixed-line (wifi) internet connectivity has been restored in #Myanmar from 6:30 am local time after the 30th night of recurring post-coup shutdowns 📈
However, network data show mobile internet remains disconnected for a second day 📵
— NetBlocks (@netblocks) March 16, 2021
Wednesday, 17 March 2021
As in previous night.
Thursday, 18 March 2021
As in previous night.
Friday, 19 March 2021: Internet shut down for 33rd night
Update: Fixed-line internet has been restored in #Myanmar as of 9 am local time after the 33rd consecutive night of internet shutdowns.
However, live metrics confirm that mobile data remains disabled for a 5th day while public wifi is also now limited.
— NetBlocks (@netblocks) March 19, 2021
Saturday, 20 March 2021: Internet shut down for 34rd night
Sunday, 21 March 2021: Internet shut down for 35th night
Monday, 22 March 2021: Internet shut down for 36th night
Update: Fixed-line internet is restored in #Myanmar from 6:30 am Monday local time after the 36th consecutive night of post-coup shutdowns.
Mobile data remains cut for an 8th day and online platforms are heavily restricted 📵#WhatsHappeningInMyanmar
— NetBlocks (@netblocks) March 22, 2021
Tuesday, 23 March 2021: Internet shut down for 37th night
Wednesday, 24 March 2021: Internet shut down for 38th night
Update: Mobile data remains cut in #Myanmar for a 10th day even as limited internet is restored from 6:30 am Wednesday local time, after the 38th night in a row of post-coup shutdowns. Online platforms are heavily restricted 📵 #WhatsHapppeningInMyanmar
— NetBlocks (@netblocks) March 24, 2021
For continued updates, please follow @netblocks on Twitter.
Smart TVs across Myanmar started displaying nonsensical Chinese letters from around 11 February 2021, stoking fears of a foreign incursion at a time when communications were increasingly disrupted.
However, the phenomenon is a technical glitch caused by the escalation of recent platform restrictions in Myanmar. A NetBlocks investigation has identified the phenomenon to be a side effect of the restriction of Google’s static CDN servers causing Web Font icon load failures in application user interfaces.
The fallback to meaningless Chinese characters on LG and Samsung smart televisions is a known issue, also observed during technical outages in the U.S. and other territories.
ℹ️ Fact Check: TVs across #Myanmar started displaying Chinese letters from 11 February stoking fears of a foreign incursion.
However, analysis reveals it to be a side effect of the restriction of Google's static CDN causing Web Font icon load failures.
— NetBlocks (@netblocks) February 17, 2021
- Mobile data, phone services disrupted in Myanmar -residents – Reuters
- Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi detained amid fears of military coup – Washington Post
- Internet connectivity drops in Myanmar after the military detains Aung San Suu Kyi and other leading politicians – TechCrunch
- Myanmar’s army detains Suu Kyi in apparent coup: spokesman – France24 / AFP
- Myanmar prepares for military to ratchet up control of the internet – Coda
- How Myanmar’s Fragile Push for Democracy Collapsed in a Military Coup – Time
- Aung San Suu Kyi detained by military in apparent coup – DW
- Myanmar hit with internet disruptions as military seeks to take control – ZDNet
- In the old days, coups started by seizing TV and radio stations – The Register
- Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi abducted in suspected military coup – SVT
- Myanmar state-run internet provider blocks Facebook services – Reuters
- Facebook temporarily blocked in Myanmar after military coup – CNet
- Myanmar’s military should lift Facebook, WhatsApp censorship, enable news broadcasts following coup – Committee to Protect Journalists
- IFJ Asia-Pacific members condemn attack on Myanmar democracy and press freedom – International Federation of Journalists
- Myanmar: End Crackdown on Media, Communications – Human Rights Watch
- Myanmar: Freedom of expression and access to information crushed as coup unfolds – Article 19
- Myanmar: Military’s targeting of Facebook ratchets up post-coup assault on freedom of expression – Article 19
- Myanmar’s embattled press faces a military coup – Columbia Journalism Review
- Myanmar Military Blocks Facebook as Global Internet Disruptions Intensify – Coindesk
- Internet blackouts skyrocket amid global political unrest – Axios
- Myanmar blocks Twitter amid outrage at coup – DW
- Twitter Restricted In Myanmar: Internet Monitoring Group – Barrons / AFP
- Myanmar junta shuts Twitter and Instagram as protests expand – Associated Press
- Myanmar’s new military government is now blocking Twitter – TechCrunch
- Myanmar junta shuts Twitter and Instagram to curb protests – Washington Post / Associated Press
- Myanmar: Anti-coup protests met with internet blackout – DW / AFP
- Myanmar in midst of ‘national-scale internet blackout’ – monitor – Reuters
- Myanmar coup: Internet shutdown as crowds protest against military – BBC
- Myanmar generals shut down internet as thousands protest coup – CNBC
- Digital siege: Internet cuts become favored tool of regimes – Associated Press
NetBlocks diffscans, which map the IP address space of a country in real time, show internet connectivity levels and corresponding outages. Purposeful internet outages generally have a distinct network pattern used by NetBlocks to determine and attribute the root cause of an outage, a process known as attribution which follows detection and classification stages.
Internet performance and service reachability are determined via NetBlocks web probe privacy-preserving analytics. Each measurement consists of latency round trip time, outage type and autonomous system number aggregated in real-time to assess service availability and latency in a given country. Network providers and locations are enumerated as vantage point pairs. The root cause of a service outage may be additionally corroborated by means of traffic analysis and manual testing as detailed in the report.
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