In the months before the Myanmar military's Feb. 1 coup, the country's telecom and internet service providers were ordered to install intercept spyware that would allow the army to eavesdrop on the communications of citizens, sources with direct knowledge of the plan have said.

The technology gives the military the power to listen in on calls, view text messages and web traffic including emails, and track the locations of users without the assistance of the telecom and internet firms, the sources said.

The directives are part of a sweeping effort by the army to deploy electronic surveillance systems and exert control over the internet with the aim of keeping tabs on political opponents, squashing protests and cutting off channels for any future dissent, they added.