Cambodia’s Internet May Soon Be Like China’s: State Controlled

“We’re 35 days away from D-Day, and no status update has been delivered by relevant authorities or the private sector itself. That said, we weren’t expecting any public transparency as to the implementation of this,” Naly Pilorge, director of the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights, said this month.

“In the past, the government has tried to block content by requesting private-sector I.S.P.s to remove it, with mixed success,” she said. “But the National Internet Gateway gives them a much more powerful tool to crack down on free expression and dissent.”

In one bizarre move in September, the prime minister “Zoom-bombed” an online meeting for members of the Cambodian National Rescue Party. He took to Facebook to explain the intrusion: “This entry was just to give a warning message to the rebel group to be aware that Mr. Hun Sen’s people are everywhere.”

San Mala, a senior advocacy officer with the Cambodian Youth Network, said activists and rights groups were already using coded language to communicate across online messaging platforms, knowing that the authorities had been emboldened by the decree.

“As a civil society organization, we are concerned about this internet gateway law because we fear that our work will be subjected to surveillance or our conversations will be eavesdropped on or they will be able to attend online meetings with us without invitation or permission,” said Mr. San Mala, 28.

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