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Group Criticizes Burmese Internet Restrictions

A U.S. group measuring governments' Internet censorship says Burma has one of the world's most restrictive policies and may be increasing control through sophisticated filtering software.

The "Open Net Initiative" group, supported by several rights groups and U.S. universities, says Burma's regulating system has both broad, vaguely worded policies governing Internet behavior and harsh penalties for lawbreakers.

It says the state focuses on blocking politically sensitive information such as pro-democracy Web sites, and has the capability to monitor e-mail communication.

The group says even some mainstream Internet sites, like Yahoo and Hotmail, are barred because they thwart state monitoring.

It says the government uses Internet filtering software purchased from a U.S. company, Fortinet.

The independent Irawaddy newspaper quotes officials with the company denying the charge.