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updated: 3/22/2013 8:42 AM

Google's Schmidt urges Myanmar to embrace free speech

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  • Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt gestures during an interactive session with group of students at a technical university in Yangon, Myanmar, Friday.

      Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt gestures during an interactive session with group of students at a technical university in Yangon, Myanmar, Friday.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

YANGON, Myanmar -- Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt is urging Myanmar to allow free speech and private sector development of the country's woeful telecommunications infrastructure.

"Try to keep the government out of regulating the internet" he told a group of students Friday at a technical university in Yangon.

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He says Google's first priority in Myanmar, which is undergoing rapid political and economic reforms, is to improve access to information through its search, translation and mapping applications.

Schmidt's visit to Myanmar comes after trips to Libya, Afghanistan, and North Korea, which he says was a "truly wacky place." He is scheduled to meet Myanmar's president Friday afternoon.

Inadequate infrastructure and prohibitive prices mean only about 1 percent of people in Myanmar have access to the internet and less than 10 percent have mobile phones.

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