Junta’s forces still target and extort VPN users despite claims that complaints are possible

July 10, 2024

HURFOM: On June 24th, 2024, junta spokesperson General Zaw Min Tun, said if one was arrested or extorted for using or installing VPN applications on mobile phones, they could file a formal complaint seeking further investigation.

However, junta’s security forces are still targeting VPN users and extorting huge sums of money from mobile phone users.

I went to Dawei on July 5th for business. Our car was stopped on the way back. The security forces told us to show our ID cards and then, they checked our phones to see if we installed or used any VPN application. A traveler beside me had a VPN application, and they had to pay 50,000 MMK,” said a woman.

There have been strict searches of mobile phones for VPN applications at the entrance and exit of Mudon, Thanbyuzayat and Ye Town in Mon State. Residents from Tenasserim Division have also experienced searches conducted by government officials of the military junta.

If any VPN application is found on a mobile phone, the user is extorted for 50,000 MMK to 300,000 MMK.

One of my friends was found using a VPN and he had to pay 100,000 MMK. They (the security forces) said he was a student so they reduced the punishment,” said a university student from the Mawlamyine University.

The military junta has tried to block the freedom of press and information flow since the attempted coup in 2021 by banning the use of social media. Therefore, having a VPN has become an essential tool to have access to social media in Burma.

If they don’t find a VPN application on the phone, they go to the “setting” and do a deep search. Surprisingly, they don’t check for VPNs on crowded streets. The lower-rank forces are checked for VPNs, just to make extra-money,” said a young man from Thanbyuzayat Township.

On May 29th, 2024, the junta announced a ban on using a VPN and soon after the announcement, more than 20 popular free VPNs could not connect to the server.

We can use a free VPN for only 30 minutes. As the junta’s forces are extorting money from the users, it isn’t okay to use a paid VPN,” said a youth from Dawei City.

At the moment, the people across Burma are facing either telecommunication cut offs, slow internet connections and threats to using a VPN, all of which have a huge impact for online businesses, the economy, education and social affairs.


Comments are closed.