Myanmar, Telenor | Group M1 took the magazine by word of mouth and responded to the criticism

Lebanese investment firm M1 Group, founded by Lebanese billionaire Najib Mikati and his brother Taha, bought Telenor subsidiary Telenor Myanmar last summer for NOK 900 million. The sale will only be formalized after regulatory approval by authorities in Myanmar, which unconfirmed reports say could take place as early as next week.

READ ALSO: SOMO threatens Telenor with international criminal court

The sale was highly controversial in Norway and around the world. Critics claim the M1 Group will be able to hand over sensitive personal information about Telenor Myanmar’s 18 million subscribers to the brutal military junta once the sale is complete.

Both the international and Norwegian press have conveyed hints that the M1 Group has loose ties to the military regime – based on statements from a number of actors such as Myanmar’s civil law organizations and human rights organizations.

Read also: Local Telenor employees plead with Telenor board to stop selling

– Baseless accusations

Now the M1 Group, which has been relatively silent during the sales process, is taking the magazine through word of mouth and reaching out to critics.

M1 Group was contacted because Nettavisen described the investment company as a “controversial company” and wrote that the company “allegedly had close ties to the coup plotters in Myanmar”.

The online newspaper has given the M1 Group the opportunity to respond, and print it in its entirety.

– These are baseless accusations that can easily be repeated and amplified in the echo chamber. Despite the lack of factual basis, it would be a self-fulfilling prophecy, a spokesperson for the M1 Group said in a written response to Nettavisen.

– Can M1 Group guarantee that user data for Telenor Myanmar customers will not be handed over to the military or authorities once the sale is formalized and approved by regulations? asked Nettavisen.

– As you correctly pointed out, the decision on regulatory approval is still being considered. In general, the debate around privacy and data-related protection is of course global, and involves the world’s leading companies in technology, media and telecommunications. M1 Group never compromises on data security or monitoring requests (interception: user data such as storage, recording and tracking) in any of its operations, and is committed to fulfilling all of its legal and ethical obligations to its tens of millions of users worldwide . M1 will not facilitate illegal surveillance requests for anyone in any country, the spokesperson replied.

– Myanmar will comply with Myanmar law in providing its services to Myanmar customers. Both the Constitution of the Republic of Myanmar Union from 2008 (drafted by the Constitutional Assembly appointed by the Military Junta, editor’s note) and the Law on the Protection of Privacy and Security of Citizens of March 8, 2017, establish provisions for the protection of privacy and security of communications. .

Read also: Strong accusations against Telenor in Myanmar: – Has shared sensitive user data with the military regime for one year

UN report

The Burma Committee in the UK places billionaire Mikati dollars and the M1 Group in «dirty list» Already in 2019. This is a list of people and companies doing business with the ruthless generals in Myanmar. UNreport from 2019 also linked M1 Group investments to the military in Myanmar.

– As for the UN independent international fact mission, M1’s stake in Irrawaddy Green Towers is an investment that will ensure that the country has sufficient infrastructure to meet the needs of the population for telecommunications in Myanmar. All telecommunications operators rely on telecommunications towers provided by a number of suppliers, some of which are owned and financed by international investors. These towers offer passive infrastructure to all cellular service providers in the country, to connect residents. It should be noted that the International Financing Institute (IFC) is also investing in the telecommunications tower companies it references, as described in the UN independent international fact mission report, the spokesman said.

Read also: Telenor complains to the Data Inspectorate: – Concerns for family safety

Present in an authoritarian regime

The M1 Group has become a major mobile player in authoritarian regimes such as Yemen, Syria, Liberia and Sudan.

– M1 Group has decades of experience providing essential services to people in developing countries around the world in difficult political situations. The M1 Group has always been and will always remain committed to upholding human rights, respecting the laws of the countries in which it operates, and at the same time promoting the regulation of consumer rights, and especially in data security, data resilience, privacy, connectivity, roaming, access internet, and more.

– As a responsible company, M1 Group will work tirelessly to promote the human rights of all its employees in Myanmar, and ensure that there is a healthy and safe work environment so that they can better serve the local community.

– The readiness of the M1 Group to work in some of the world’s most challenging markets remains an important part of the M1 Group’s mission, and hence the company’s active presence in local communities where there is an urgent need for an independent, reliable and proven telecommunications operator, read the response.

Read also: Demanding that the Shop take to the field: – Morally obligated to intervene in disputed sales

Critical of sales

Aye Chan Naing is editor-in-chief of the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), and co-founded an independent radio channel in 1992. The radio channel had to be broadcast from Oslo until 2013 because the military junta ruled the country with a brutal iron fist.

Aye Chan Naing had the following to say about the sale of Telenor Group M1 to Nettavisen earlier this week:

– I can understand that Telenor felt that they had to leave the country because of pressure from the military to hand over customer data and information, and that this was against Telenor’s standards and values. But what’s the point of selling it to another company willing to pass on that information? It’s a complicated situation.

– Now all user data about customers will be handed over to the military, regardless of whether or not the new owner has ties to the military regime. They bought the company precisely because they lived well by meeting the demands of the military, Aye Chan Naing recently told Nettavisen.

Elena Eland

"Web specialist. Incurable twitteraholic. Explorer. Organizer. Internet nerd. Avid student."

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