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The lower house of parliament on Tuesday approved a bill to amend Burma’s infamous Electronic Transactions Law, a widely unpopular piece of legislation which was routinely used by the previous ruling military junta to jail political activists.
Thein Nyunt, the lower house representative for Rangoon’s Thingangyun township who submitted the bill, said that the amendments to the draconian law mostly focused on clauses concerned with sentencing offenders – the provisions stated in articles 33 to 38.
“Article 33 of the original Electronic Transactions Law allows for sentences of between seven and 15 years for using electronic communication to acquire or distribute information on state secrets, or carry out an act that is deemed detrimental to the state’s security, rule of law, regional tranquility, ethnic unity, economy or national culture,” said Thein Nyunt, who is the founder and chairman of the New National Democracy Party.
“My bill has adjusted those prison terms to three years minimum and seven years maximum,” he said. “We have also added provisions allowing for a fine.”
Thein Nyunt added that the Electronics Act should not be used to prevent people expressing, writing or distributing their beliefs and opinions, and that it is in essence a law aimed at protecting national security interests.
He said the Electronic Transactions Law will be abolished when the Commercial Electronic Transactions Law is adopted in the near future.
The bill will now move to the upper house for approval, and if it passes it will finally need the president’s signature to become law.
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