Cambodia adopts China-style internet gateway amid crackdown on opposition

Government has embarked on campaign of criminal charges and jail terms for many of its rivals

Samuel Osborne
Wednesday 17 February 2021 20:42
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A person uses a smartphone to look at the Facebook page of Cambodia’s prime minister Hun Sen
A person uses a smartphone to look at the Facebook page of Cambodia’s prime minister Hun Sen
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Cambodia’s government has established a China-style internet gateway that will allow online traffic to be controlled and monitored.

The move has prompted further concern that democratic freedoms could be under threat following a crackdown that has decimated civil society and the Asian country’s political opposition.

The 11-page decree announced on Wednesday says it seeks to facilitate and manage internet connections to help revenue collection, protect national security and maintain order, culture and tradition.

The gateway's operator will support authorities with "measures to prevent and disconnect all network connections that affect national income, security, social order, morality, culture, traditions and customs".

Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen’s government has embarked on a campaign of criminal charges and jail terms for many of its rivals to ensure its political monopoly.

The gateway will be similar to that of China, an important economic ally for Cambodia.

The decree gives service providers one year to connect to the gateway, but gave no timeframe for its launch.

It requires service providers to make users complete online forms with their correct identities and says failure to connect networks to the gateway would result in operating licenses being suspended and bank accounts frozen.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said there was no order to the internet in Cambodia and argued the decree was less intrusive than regulations the UK and United States.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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