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Telecom Ministry defends law

A man browses the web at an internet cafe in Phnom Penh.
A man browses the web at an internet cafe in Phnom Penh. Hong Menea

Telecom Ministry defends law

The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications yesterday rejected concerns that the controversial Telecommunications Law passed last year gave the government unchecked powers to secretly eavesdrop.

Licadho published a briefing paper on Thursday describing the law as full of “serious threats” to privacy and free expression.

Of particular concern to the rights group was Article 97, which allowed for “secret surveillance”, providing its practitioners had approval from a “legitimate authority”.

The briefing paper argued the vagueness of “legitimate authority” as a term left the door open “to create a power to secretly eavesdrop without any public accountability or safeguards to protect individuals’ right to privacy”.

In a statement released yesterday, the Telecommunications Ministry, responsible for administering the law, countered by insisting a definition of the term in Article 3 of the law was sufficiently narrow.

“With permission of legitimate authorities refers to telecoms operations by authorities involved in national security and defence work,” the statement reads.

Representatives of Licadho were not reachable for comment yesterday evening.

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