Cambodia: Government plans to control and monitor online traffic

Cambodian authorities have prepared a decree allowing for the regulation of all web traffic to be routed through a ‘national internet gateway’ in an effort to control and monitor online traffic. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) expresses its concern that the plan will restrict internet freedom and block critical content.

A woman cycles past a banner with a reference to Facebook in Phnom Penh on March 22, 2018. Credit: Tang Chin Sothy/AFP

The document, drafted in July, said that the country will manage the internet connections to improve “national revenue collection”, protect “national security” and ensure “social order”. Article 4 of the draft decree states that the establishment of national internet gateway is to facilitate and manage domestic and international internet connections.

The government will appoint operators to collaborate with government agencies including the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications and the Telecommunications Regulator of Cambodia.

One of the duties of the operators is to work with the government in blocking certain types of content and “to take actions to block and disconnect all network connections that affect safety, national revenue, social order, dignity, culture, traditions and customs.”

A spokesman from the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, Im Vutha, said that the agency has been finalising a draft sub-decree on the national internet gateway (NIG) regulation. It will be scheduled to complete by the end of this year. The government believes that the NIG would “create a one-stop system to bring all overseas internet connections through a single point and save costs for Cambodia’s telecom sector.”

According to a report from Telecommunication Regulator of Cambodia, published on July, Cambodia had 14.8 million internet subscribers as of May, or 90 per cent of the total population. The country has seen a 33 per cent increase of internet subscribers to 249.132 users in May.

Cambodia has been known to block independent news websites, including online radio media outlets Radio Free Asia (RFA), Voice of America (VoA) and Voice of Democracy (VOD) and several English-language news websites in the lead up to the 2018 general election.

The IFJ said: “Internet freedom is a human right that the authorities must respect. IFJ denounces the finalisation of the sub-decree to launch national internet gateway and calls the government to ensure open and free access to information for people in Cambodia.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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