Burma Government Denies Hacking Journalists’ Emails

February 12th, 2013 at 7:34 am

The government of Myanmar (also known as Burma) has denied that it had to do with the possible attempt to hack into email accounts of journalists working for foreign and local media. This statement comes after Google warned that journalists are becoming targets of “state-sponsored attackers.”

At least 12 journalists based in this Asian country’s major city of Yangon and overseas have received messages from Google last week, informing them that someone is attempting to access their Gmail accounts, adding that hackers “may be attempting to compromise your account or your computer.”

Taj Meadows, a spokesperson for Google, confirmed the messages sent to the reporters, stating that the company issues such warnings to protect users. However, he did not disclose how Google detects the attacks as “state-sponsored.”

Myanmar’s presidential spokesman Ye Htut demanded Google to identify those who are responsible with the cyber attacks “because the vague reference to state-sponsored attackers hurts the image of the government.”

“That’s not a policy of our government,” Ye Htut insisted. He even revealed that he also received such hacking warning from his own Gmail account on Monday, about a week after most of the journalists received theirs, even posting a screen shot on his Facebook page to prove his claim.

The warnings raised concerns about the country’s new-found status of press freedom after decades of censorship, when journalists in Myanmar were subjected to routine state surveillance and telephone taps.

These restrictions were drastically relaxed after President Thein Sein’s administration took over two years ago. His government eased media controls, abolished an official policy on censorship, and allowed reporters to publish materials that would have been considered banned during the years of absolute military rule like photos of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

However, reporters claim that harsh laws that would put them incarcerated remain in the books. Some local journalists have admitted managing a separate email account when dealing with the government, for fear their sources may be compromised.

Source: Associated Press, via The Huffington Post


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