Government Plans to Regulate Online Content

The Ministry of Information is planning to begin regulating the Internet in the country to prevent offensive content from being posted online, ostensibly to prevent defamation and provocations to violence, according to a ministry official.

“We want to tell Internet users to not use words relating to pornography and words relating to hatred and discrimination,” said Ouk Kimseng, an adviser to the ministry and the head of its initiative to censor the Internet.

“Particularly, the Facebook users must know how to consider the reputation and dignity of individual people,” he added.

Mr. Kimseng said the ministry had not yet set up a timeframe for the initiative, but added that officials are already compiling a list of banned words.

“For instance, if someone accuses an individual of being a traitor or posts photos showing killing and violent activities. We are studying how to cope with this issue,” he said.

Chea Chan Boribo, secretary of state at the Ministry of Information, said the ban was Mr. Kimseng’s brainchild and declined to comment further.

“He is the one who proposed this idea,” Mr. Chan Boribo said, referring to Mr. Kimseng. “Please ask him.”

While officials declined to say how the ban would be carried out, one Internet service provider said he would comply if asked to block certain Web pages.

“I will follow the law if the ministry issues it,” said Sok Chanda, CEO of MekongNet. “The ministry can withdraw my license if I don’t.”

Preap Kol, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, decried the initiative.

“It is a worrying measure,” he said. “If the scope and definition of the language restricts freedom of expression when it comes to political views or critical comments, it can create censorship and could negatively affect freedom of expression.”

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