M1 Group responds to criticism about Telenor Myanmar sale

Telenor’s sale of its Myanmar business to M1 Group has been largely criticized in many parts of the world. The Lebanese investment company has been very tight-lipped about the process but is now addressing the criticism and calling it “groundless accusations”, media Nettavisen writes. 

M1 Group, which was founded by the Lebanese billionaire Najib Mikati and his brother Taha, bought Telenor’s subsidiary Telenor Myanmar last summer for NOK 900 million. The sale will only be formalized after regulatory approval by the authorities in Myanmar, which according to unconfirmed reports can take place as early as next week.

The sale has been very controversial in Norway and the rest of the world. Critics claim the M1 Group will be able to hand over sensitive personal information about Telenor Myanmar’s 18 million customers to the brutal military junta once the sale is completed.

Both in the international and Norwegian press, M1 Group has been called a “controversial company” with “allegedly close links to the Myanmar Junta” and now the Lebanese investment company has responded to the criticism.

In a written response to Nettavisen, M1 Group calls the criticism “baseless accusations” with a lack of factual basis.

When asked if M1 Group can guarantee that the user data for Telenor Myanmar’s customers will not be handed over to the military or the authorities after the sale has been formalized and regulatory approved, the company says:

“As you rightly point out, the decision on regulatory approval is still being considered. In general, the debate around data-related privacy and protection is of course global and involves leading companies in the world in tech, media, and telecommunications. M1 Group has never compromised on data security or monitoring requests (interception: user data such as storage, recording, and tracking) in any of its operations, and is committed to fulfilling all its legal and ethical obligations to its tens of millions of users around the world. The M1 will not facilitate illegal surveillance requests for anyone in any country,” the spokesperson answers.

“Myanmar will comply with the laws of Myanmar in its provision of services to Myanmar customers. Both the Constitution of the Republic of Myanmar Union from 2008 (drafted by the Constitutional Assembly appointed by the military junta, editor’s note) and the law on the protection of privacy and citizens’ security from March 8, 2017, lay down provisions for the protection of privacy and security of communication,” M1 Group adds.

About Gregers Møller

Editor-in-Chief • ScandAsia Publishing Co., Ltd. • Bangkok, Thailand

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