Myanmar's military rulers have shut down the country's internet as thousands of people joined the largest rally yet against Monday's coup. All mobile operators have temporarily shut down the data network in Myanmar. Voice and SMS services remain open. Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC) said in a statement. “In the directive, the MoTC cites legal basis in Myanmar’s Telecommunication Law, and references circulation of fake news, the stability of the nation and interest of the public as a basis for the order. Telenor Myanmar, as a local company, is bound by local law and needs to handle this irregular and difficult situation. We have employees on the ground and our first priority is to ensure their safety.”
The internet shutdown came into effect hours after the military had blocked access to Twitter and Instagram to stop people mobilising for protests. Facebook had been banned a day earlier.
Many internet users had evaded the restrictions on social media by using virtual private networks (VPNs) but the more general blackout severely disrupted that.
Civil society organisations encouraged internet providers and mobile networks to challenge the blackout order. Human rights group Amnesty International called the shutdown "heinous and reckless". Reuters news agency reports.
According to monitoring group NetBlocks Internet Observatory, a near-total internet blackout is in effect in Myanmar with connectivity falling to 16% of ordinary levels, said the.
During the protests, in the main city, Yangon, crowds chanted "Military dictator, fail, fail; Democracy, win, win".
Police with riot shields have barricaded the major roads into the city centre.
The military has not commented on the internet shutdown.