NEW YORK - Myanmar uses Internet software filters from a U.S. company to essentially create a private intranet for the country, allowing it to monitor e-mail and block sites from opposition groups, university researchers have found.
In the latest study on censorship, the OpenNet Initiative found Myanmar's to be among the most extensive.
Free e-mail providers like Hotmail are routinely blocked, forcing users to rely on state-controlled services that are easier to control. The group also found inaccessible the majority of political opposition and pro-democracy sites it tested.
The OpenNet Initiative is a collaboration of Harvard University, the University of Toronto and the University of Cambridge. It previously studied censorship in China, Iran and Singapore.
Jonathan Zittrain, a professor at Harvard and Oxford universities, said Myanmar achieves what even China isn't able to do: Create a countrywide network with limited gateways to the outside world.
He suspects China needs the Internet too much for commerce to successfully create a similar China Wide Web.
According to the study, the country formerly known as Burma recently switched from an open-source filtering product to a firewall from Fortinet Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif.
Fortinet officials told the researchers that sales are made through resellers, although an official Burmese site shows a photograph identifying a Fortinet regional executive, Benjamin Teh, with then-Prime Minister Gen. Khin Nyunt at a ceremony to introduce the product. Fortinet officials did not return calls from The Associated Press on Wednesday.