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Ministry’s plan for net sparks fears

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A photo of Ministry of Post and Telecommunications. Facebook

Ministry’s plan for net sparks fears

The government has ordered all domestic and international internet traffic in the Kingdom to pass through a Data Management Centre (DMC) that has been newly created by the state-owned Telecom Cambodia, in a move some have claimed is an attempt to censor government critics.

Spokesman for the Council of Ministers, Phay Siphan, said that he “was unaware” of the matter and referred all questions to the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications.

Meas Po, spokesman for the Telecommunications Ministry, declined to comment.

A letter dated May 2 and signed by Secretary of State for the Council of Ministers Khem Russida and made available to The Post, says the move follows a request by the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications and Prime Minister Hun Sen.

According to the letter, the policy will require all domestic and international data to be transmitted through the Telecom Cambodia’s DMC.

The change effectively means Telecom Cambodia will monitor all data transmitted through the DMC with effect from the third quarter of this year.

“The government has decided that, in principle, the domestic and international network traffic of all telecommunications operators in the country will pass through Telecom Cambodia’s DMC,” the letter says.

“The data transit price has been set at one cent a minute for telecom operators so as to stabilise the state’s revenue from the telecommunications sector.” It said the creation of the DMC will be made known through an interministry announcement by the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications and the Ministry of Economic and Finance in the third quarter of 2018.

The director of the Cambodian Centre for Applied Philosophy and Ethics, Pa Chanroeun, said: “We have seen the announcement, but it lacks detailed information on why the government is demanding that internet traffic must pass through a DMC belonging to the state.

“If this new measure serves to prevent security attacks and cyber crime then it is a good move as we have seen online fraud committed in Cambodia. But if it is to assist the government in effectively monitoring data transmitted through the internet then it is a threat to the rights and freedoms of its users.”

He said that having discussed the matter with a group of around 80 young people at a forum on Saturday, the majority of them expressed “grave concerns” over freedom of expression.

“They said they might be forced to carry out self-censorship, and feared for their safety when sharing news and information on Facebook, or even clicking ‘like’ on the social media pages of opposition parties and those opposed to the government,” Chanroeun said.

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