Activists in Myanmar have released troves of data linking the country’s military dictatorship to a company that will be purchasing a majority stake in Telenor Myanmar — a subsidiary of Norwegian telecom giant Telenor that controls the personal data of 18 million Myanmar subscribers.
Telenor, which is owned and controlled by the Norwegian government, has faced significant backlash for weeks after it announced a decision to sell its telecom business in Myanmar to a notorious Lebanese company called M1 Group for $105 million.
News outlets in Myanmar have reported that M1 is already telling regulators in the country that it plans to sell 80% of Telenor Myanmar to Shwe Byain Phyu, a company with deep, longstanding ties to the country’s brutal military, according to local activist group Justice for Myanmar.
Telenor has defended the sale by repeatedly saying it is selling the business to M1 and not a military-owned company.
Myanmar’s military took control of the country in a violent coup that began last year, arresting the country’s elected leader — Aung San Suu Kyi — and disbanding her government. Since February, the military has arrested and killed thousands, sparking a revolt that has now spread throughout the country.
Activists have expressed fears that once Telenor Myanmar is fully controlled by