The Future of Cambodian Cybercrime Law

The cybercrime law is the hot topic among Internet users both journalists, media practitioners and citizen journalists in Cambodia nowadays.

A stated-run exchange committee was introduced in early 2010 to control all ISPs with the declared aims of strengthening internet security. Yet, it’s been delayed because of the opposition and internal government’s comments (Freedom House, 2013).

Freedom House (2013) said, “There is no independent regulatory body overseeing the digital landscape in Cambodia and controls are implemented through ad hoc internal circulars.”

The government planned to organize bi-monthly meeting to review websites and block those in conflict with national value affecting Khmer morality and tradition and the government (The Phnom Penh Post, 2011).

Moreover, in May 2012, the Royal Government of Cambodia is drafting its first cyber law, a move designed to prevent “ill-willed groups or individuals” from spreading false information (The Phnom Penh Post, 2012).

Freedom House reported that the law will limit the freedom of expression and punish traditional journalists via the use of existing criminal deformation and incitement law.

However top government official claimed that the law does not aim to limit the freedom of express of Cambodian citizens. Ministry of Information Khieu Kanharith stated, “The draft law has contributions from the National Information and Communications Technology Development Authority, or Nida, the Council of Ministers, the National Bank of Cambodia, and the ministries of Commerce and Telecommunications, though it has not reached the top level of any of these for approval. That means it will take a long time to draft and approve for legislation,” (VOA, 2013).

Although minister explained about the landscape of the law, but the Internet users still worry about threat of the law to their voice in cyber space. “I’m concerned that the law could be used to justify suppression of Internet freedom in the country,” blogger Sorn Ramana (VOA, 2013).

Another high position official explained about the limitation of the law. Government spokesman Phay Siphan claimed, “It solely involves tools for protecting formal, private and copy-righted data from hacking, or the destruction of users’ formal data, especially banks and related institutions. The law will not be used to censor digital content like letters, photographs, video and other media, or to limit freedom of expression online.” (VOA, 2013).

Law is law. I think this law should be amended. As shown above if there is no law to control the cyber, it will turn from freedom to anarchy. But the problem here is the enforcement of the law. If the authority enforce the law according the real meaning of each article in the law, it will be good for Cambodia to strengthen its rule of law. However, there is a concern here.  I am afraid the government uses this law to punish people who against or critic the lack of responsibility of its officials.

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