Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Telecoms regulator to investigate internet providers for snubbing Cambodia Daily ban

Telecoms regulator to investigate internet providers for snubbing Cambodia Daily ban

A man reads the Cambodia Daily before it was shuttered in September. Cambodia's telecoms regulator says it will investigate internet service providers who failed to block access to the Daily's website despite a government request.
A man reads the Cambodia Daily before it was shuttered in September. Cambodia's telecoms regulator says it will investigate internet service providers who failed to block access to the Daily's website despite a government request. Hong Menea

Telecoms regulator to investigate internet providers for snubbing Cambodia Daily ban

Cambodia’s Telecommunications Regulator (TRC) said today that it will investigate internet service providers (ISP) that have not blocked the Cambodia Daily website, warning that those who fail to comply with a now months-old order could lose their licences.

Government documents, which came to light yesterday, show the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, at the request of the General Department of Taxation, ordered ISPs to block access to the Cambodia Daily IP address, as well as its Facebook page and Twitter account.

Only a handful of ISPs seem to have complied with the government request. MekongNet and Sinet KH confirmed the block, and access also appeared to be restricted through the provider Online. The Daily was forced to close in September last year after it was handed a $6.3 million tax bill, which many observers contend was used to silence an outlet often critical of the government.

TRC spokesman Im Vutha said that the noncompliant ISPs – some of which told The Post yesterday they had not received the letter – could face legal consequences under Article 78 of the Telecoms Law.

“We start to investigate those who did not block, because it was ordered by the government,” Vutha said. “If they violate any order from the government, they will face the Telecoms Law.”

“We will give them a warning, give time to correct, and if they do not listen we will revoke their licence,” he said, adding that only the courts could determine the penalty.

Telecom Ministry spokesman Khov Makara today said he had little detailed knowledge of the letter, which was signed by Khay Khunheng, a secretary of state from his ministry, as it came from a “technical department”.

Makara denied the move was a form of censorship.

“Block means you are not able to view; censorship is something different. Censorship means you cannot do – block means you are not allowed to see,” he said.

Ezecom CEO Paul Blanche-Horgan yesterday said he had not seen the ministry’s letter. While government has made attempts over the years to block sites, he said, “we don’t do that”.

“We have never blocked any sites,” he said in an email.

A representative from Cellcard said the company had adhered to the government's order when it was first issued.

“Cellcard acted with due diligence in September 2017 and blocked the IP addresses as requested. However, it appears the Cambodia Daily has since changed its IP address. We are seeking advice from the Ministry on further action to be taken,” they said in a statement.

Neak Longkheang, Digi’s chief marketing officer, maintained his company had not received the letter, but that it would move to block access to the Daily if further pressed by the government.

“If a letter comes, we have to do it," he said. "We will follow the regulations from the government. That’s what we do.”

The Daily is not the first site to be blocked at the behest of the government. In 2011, attempts were made to block access to opposition news blog KI Media, although the government denied any official blackout of the site at the time.

A previous version of this article included a comment from Cellcard CEO Ian Watson that he is unaware of the company having received the letter from the ministry. It has been updated to reflect a subsequent statement from the company.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Full country reopening to be decided in two weeks

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced that if the Covid-19 situation remains stable for 15 consecutive days from the end of the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, Cambodia will reopen fully, albeit in the context of Covid-19 whereby people have to adjust their lives to

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Phnom Penh governor: Show Covid-19 vaccination cards, or else

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng late on October 5 issued a directive requiring all people aged 18 and over and the parents of children aged 6-17 to produce Covid-19 vaccination cards when entering schools, markets, malls, marts, eateries and other business establishments that have been permitted

  • Cambodia seeks probe into 'false reports' on Hun Sen's alleged Cypriot passport

    Minister of Justice Koeut Rith on September 6 wrote a letter to his Cypriot counterpart Stephie Dracos requesting cooperation in investigating and providing the truth in relation to the "exaggerative and false allegations" that Prime Minister Hun Sen holds a Cypriot passport. In his letter, the

  • 'Pandora Papers' expose leaders' offshore millions

    More than a dozen heads of state and government, from Jordan to Azerbaijan, Kenya and the Czech Republic, have used offshore tax havens to hide assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars, according to a far-reaching new investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (