The Cambodian National Internet Gateway announced in January 2021 is finally coming online this Wednesday, censoring all internet traffic to pervasive government surveillance.
Cambodia’s regime has made it mandatory for all ISPs in the country to route their traffic through this gateway. Non-compliance can lead to suspended licenses and frozen bank accounts. All incoming traffic to Cambodia will also be required to pass through this gateway.
The gateway is very similar to what China has been doing in its digital space. The regime justifies this gateway as necessary as there’s no order to the internet in Cambodia, even adding that it’s comparatively less intrusive than regulations in bigger countries like the US and the UK.
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Government crackdown takes a big step
This isn’t the Cambodian regime’s first crack at taming the internet either. Each ministry within the government has a separate team that monitors the internet and reports offending content to an internet crime unit in the Ministry of Interior.
People responsible for this content can be charged with incitement and sent to prison.
This new law and, by extension, the gateway will make this process far easier for the regime. If the entire country’s internet access is under the microscope, monitoring online content, finding its origins and punishing the people behind it can be as easy as a few clicks. For a country that includes freedom of speech proudly in its constitution, that sure is a lot of trouble for speaking freely.
For all intents in purposes, this gateway centralises what was previously a decentralised operation run by different teams within different ministries.
The timing for this implementation also plays an important part here as elections are expected next year, and implementing the gateway will help Hun Sen’s government block out dissenting views online.
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