In an unexpected move last week, Burma (Myanmar), unblocked several major websites including BBC, YouTube, Voice of America, and the Democratic Voice of Burma. This comes as a surprise from the Burmese government, which is historically well known for strict online censorship and arresting critics of its regime.
While this is certainly a step forward in Internet freedom for the traditionally restrictive regime, others note that it may still be a very small step at best. As Southeast Asia representative of the Committee to Protect Journalists, Shawn W. Crispin points out, much of the population still remains unconnected to the Internet, so allowing access to a few main sites online “is hardly a noteworthy move toward more press freedom,” he says.
Moreover, the main government and legal apparatuses used to punish critics and those accessing banned materials remains intact even if these sites are now unblocked. As if to illustrate this point, the Burmese government is still detaining 17 journalists and 3 netizens.