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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Telecoms unconsulted on cyberlaw provisions

Telecoms unconsulted on cyberlaw provisions

Telecommunications companies say they are being left in the dark on the controversial draft law on cybercrime, despite provisions in the proposed law allowing prosecutors to order internet service providers to preserve data for them as part of criminal investigations.

Three large telecom firms providing internet services in Cambodia have not been consulted or asked to review the draft law, company representatives have told the Post.

“The telecom sector has not been given an opportunity to review the draft and give comment officially. So, we are in the dark as well as far as what are the objectives of this Law, the scope, how will it be implemented and most importantly – how it [will] affect our business,” Firdaus Fadzil, head of regulatory affairs at Smart, said in an email.

“We will seek more information on this subject from [the] Telecommunications Regulator of Cambodia. Until then, I think our position is neutral.”

The regulator could not be reached for comment.

Paul Blanche-Horgan, CEO of internet service provider Ezecom, a member of the Royal Group, said that his company had not been informed about the law’s details either.

Ian Watson, CEO of CamGSM, parent company of Cellcard and also a member of the Royal Group, said his firm, having not been consulted, would seek more information about the law, including from the telecommunications regulator.

“We realise the importance of all of this,” he said.

If passed in its current form, the draft law would allow prosecutors to order “the expeditious preservation of the computer data or data referring to data traffic” by telecom companies during criminal investigations “in urgent and duly justified cases”.

Phu Leewood, a government adviser on information technology and former secretary-general of the National Information Communications Technology Development Authority, said the government had drafted a problematic law because of a lack of proper consultation.

“You have to have a process involving all the people, all the stakeholders affected by this law. But we don’t. We lack this process,” Leewood said.

He added that significant parts of the law had been copied wholesale from the Council of Europe’s 2001 Cybercrime Convention.

“The law was ordered to be made, [but] that person [tasked with drafting it] somehow doesn’t have any background in law [or IT] so he has no choice but to copy it. The law in its current form is modelled after the European countries’ law,” he said.

However, the draft law’s controversial Article 28, which deals with online content and which rights groups fear could be used to silence government critics, does not appear to have been taken from the European law.

Posts and Telecommunications Minister Prak Sokhon could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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