Rights group: Cambodia’s internet gateway will harm privacy

Cambodia plans to create a new national internet gateway that critics fear will increase online surveillance and internet censorship and violate the rights to privacy and freedom of expression. Like many Asian governments, Cambodia has cracked down on dissent online. Prime Minister Hun Sen signed an order on Wednesday to create such an Internet gateway. According to a copy of the measure seen on Thursday, he said it would help with tax collection, protecting national security and ensuring social order. The new regulation allows authorities to control all internet traffic in Cambodia through a regulatory body tasked with monitoring online activity. The measure would allow “blocking and disconnecting (of) all network connections that affect security, national income, social order, dignity, culture, tradition and habits,” he said.

The New York Human Rights Watch group said the Hun Sen order “dealt a severe blow to Internet freedom and electronic commerce” in Cambodia by expanding the government’s control over the country’s Internet.

He called on foreign governments, technology companies, e-commerce businesses and others to urge the government not to implement the measure. “Cambodia’s National Internet Gateway is the missing tool in the government’s toolbox for online crackdowns,” said Phil Robertson, deputy director of Asia for Human Rights Watch. “It is no coincidence that after shutting down critical media across the country, the government of Hungary has now turned its attention to online critics, just in time for the nationally organized municipal elections scheduled for 2022,” he said. Robertson. According to government statistics, internet subscriptions in Cambodia rose to 20.3 million in 2020 from 5 million in 2014. Facebook it is the most popular social media platform in the country, with over 10 million users.

Hun Sen launched a broad crackdown on his opponents in 2017. The High Court forced the country’s only credible opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, to disband and its lawmakers were ousted. from Parliament.

Many people believe the court took action to ensure that the Cambodian People’s Party of Hun Sen would prevail in the 2018 general election. It did so, by occupying all seats in Parliament.

Hun Sen has been in power for 36 years and has often been accused of leading an authoritarian regime. Several Western nations have imposed sanctions on his government, mainly after concluding that the 2018 elections were neither free nor fair.

(This story was not edited by our team of editors and is generated from a feed.)

News Highlights:

  • The Cambodias National Internet Gateway is the missing tool in the government’s toolbox for online crackdowns, said Phil Robertson, Human Rights Watch deputy director for Asia. It’s no coincidence that after shutting down critical media across the country, the government of Hungary has now turned its attention to online critics, just in time for the nationally organized municipal elections scheduled for 2022, Robertson said.
  • Rights group: Cambodia’s internet gateway will harm privacy