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

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Pursat Ford assembly plant opens

    The Kingdom’s first Ford assembly plant was inaugurated on June 16 in Pursat province amid rising demand for brand-new vehicles among Cambodians. The facility is seen as a game changer for the domestic automobile industry, which could bring a wave of investors seeking to cash

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Angkor photo rules clarified

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) denied that it had banned the use of camera tripods in the Angkor Archaeological Park, explaining that the confusion stemmed from a long-standing rule which required commercial photographers and videographers to apply for permission to film. The explanation followed a

  • $50B infrastructure plan en route

    The government’s upcoming $50 billion,10-year infrastructure master plan will provide tremendous investment opportunities for domestic and foreign entities, transport experts and economists say. Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol revealed the plan to Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami on June 15. At