Cambodia Plans Controversial New Internet Firewall

Cambodia to install internet firewall
Cambodian browses the internet at a local cafe (Photo: Vanna)

Cambodia has laid plans to route its internet traffic through a national internet gateway that will allow the country to limit certain content.

Plans for the national gateway were laid out in a sub-decree drafted in July, according to a report by Nikkei Asian Review.

Under the sub-decree, the national gateway will manage internet connections to improve national revenue collection, protect national security, and ensure social order.

The government is to appoint an operator for the gateway, who will work with the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, The Telecommunications Regulator of Cambodia, and other relevant authorities.

According to the report in Nikkei Asian Review, one of the duties listed in Article 6 of the law is to work with the government to block certain types of content that affect national security, social order, or Cambodian culture, traditions, and customs.

The We Are Social Digital 2020 Cambodia report demonstrates that Cambodia has approximately 9.7 million active internet users, with an internet penetration rate of 58%.

Similar to Laos, the number of social media users equals that of internet users.

Ith Sothoeuth, media director of the Cambodian Center for Independent Media said in an interview with the Nikkei Asian Review that the law could be used to block social media.

“They could use it on Facebook, which in Cambodia is almost a substitute for the internet.”

Under the sub-decree, the gateway operator will be tasked with storing all connection and traffic metadata for 12 months and submitting regular reports to authorities.

Thailand proposed a similar gateway in 2015 but it was quickly scrapped after a public backlash.