Myanmar Allows Yahoo Mail On a recent June-July 2008 trip to Myanmar, a friend emailed me from an Internet cafe using her Yahoo email address, which caused me to reply how shocked I was that she was able to access Yahoo!
According to a report during a bloggers’ seminar, iBlog3 in 2007, every Internet user iin Myanmar is required to register, and then, the Internet cafe owner will take his picture every five minutes; plus, all the pages he visits will be reported to the government, which will surely not include Yahoo or Google mail.
Internet Cafe in Government Building The Internet cafe my friend visited was housed in a government building, so she was pretty certain that it was being regulated; therefore, Yahoo! mail accessibility must be allowed already in Myanmar. She said there was no registration and the Internet Cafe owner basically left her alone. Incidentally, Internet cafes in Myanmar charge $0.50/hour.
Help from a Myanmar Boy As she prepared to type, my friend noted that there is no equivalent yet for the Myanmar alpahabet, so the keyboard was still in the regular English letters. However, my friend initially didn’t know how to access Yahoo!
When she saw a young boy from a nearby computer surfing through the Yahoo! site, she asked for help by simply saying plaintively, “Yahoo?”
The young boy obligingly scampered over and punched the correct keys to make the Yahoo! mail login page appear.
Pervasive Fear My friend limited her Internet activities to sending emails to people close to her and let them know she was alright and enjoying herself. Nevertheless, a pervasive fear is still present, so that when one of her contacts wrote back and mentioned a revolution, she was immediately concerned, and she made sure to reply in a very positive tone about her experiences in the country, lest her email be read by the government of Myanmar.
Although I didn’t write anything negative about the country and its people, I made sure to write in Tagalog when I replied, under the assumption that there might be censorship of sent and received emails.
Required Waiver Before entering the country of Myanmar, my friend recounted that signing a waiver is a requirement for getting a Myanmar visa. The waiver includes a declaration that one is not a member of the media or cyclone relief.