Cambodia to force all internet traffic through national 'Internet Gateway'

De facto one-party state decrees censorship scheme that sounds a lot like China's Great Firewall

Cambodia has formally announced a National Internet Gateway that will filter all traffic coming into the country, or traversing networks within its borders.

In a decree posted to Facebook on Wednesday, the nation outlined a system that resembles China’s notorious Great Firewall.

Cambodia's decree says the Gateway will strengthen the efficiency and effectiveness of national debt collection, national security protection and help maintain social order and culture.

All local ISPs and telcos will have to route traffic through the Gateway. Any that don't may have their bank accounts frozen, or licenses revoked.

The decree outlines a loose plan to operate the Gateway, control all incoming traffic and even bill ISPs and telcos to use it.

Early versions of the Gateway proposal were criticised for giving the government power to censor content and therefore restrict democracy.

Socks in front of the fire

If you want to leg it through China's Great Firewall, don't forget to pull on your newly darned Shadowsocks


The new decree outlines an appeals procedure that empowers Cambodia's Council of Ministers to make a final decision about blocked content. This sounds great in theory, but not so much in reality because Cambodia is a de facto single-party state in which opposition parties are banned and the government holds all 125 seats in Parliament.

Chak Sopheap, executive director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, tweeted that the timing of the Gateway decree was “particularly concerning as the last few years have seen a sharp increase in the number of citizens being threatened, harassed and even prosecuted for their use of the internet and for exercising their right to free speech on online platforms.”

Nonprofit advocacy group Human Rights Watch, in an article on its site, quoted its Deputy Asia Director Phil Robertson as saying: “Prime Minister Hun Sen struck a dangerous blow against internet freedom and e-commerce in Cambodia by expanding the government’s control over the country’s internet.”

Robertson added a call for governments and businesses to demand its reversal and later referred to the decree as the “missing tool in the government’s toolbox for online repression.”

Service providers have been given until February 2022 to rebuild their networks so they connect to the Gateway rather than other routes. ®

Broader topics

Other stories you might like

  • Sina Weibo, China's Twitter analog, reveals users' locations and IP addresses
    Sssshhhh! Nobody tell Elon Musk

    To the surprise of many users, China's largest Twitter-esque microblogging website, Sina Weibo, announced on Thursday that it will publish users' IP addresses and location data in an effort to keep their content honest and nice.

    In a post whose title translates as "IP Territorial Function Upgrade Announcement," the company stated it was taking the action to protect users' rights, and to make the service more pleasant to use.

    "In order to reduce undesirable behaviors such as impersonating parties, malicious rumors … as well as to ensure the authenticity and transparency of the disseminated content, the site launched the 'IP Territory' function in March this year," announced the social media platform's official account in Chinese.

    Continue reading
  • Full-time internet surveillance comes to Cambodia this week
    Locals fear sharing their views on new National Internet Gateway

    Cambodia’s National Internet Gateway comes online this Wednesday, exposing all traffic within the country to pervasive government surveillance.

    As The Register reported when the Gateway was announced in January 2021, Cambodia's regime will require all internet service providers and carriers to route their traffic through the Gateway. Revocation of operating licences or frozen bank accounts are among penalties for non-compliance.

    All incoming traffic to Cambodia will also be required to pass through the Gateway and be subject to censorship.

    Continue reading
  • Internet 'spy system' delayed because nation can't get the equipment
    Quick, blame COVID-19

    The government of Cambodia has delayed implementation of its National Internet Gateway – because it is yet to acquire the equipment needed to operate the service.

    The Gateway was announced in February 2021 and quickly attracted criticism on the basis its enabling legislation gives the regime – which has banned opposition parties from contesting elections – the power to force all internet traffic to or from the country, and within its borders, to pass through the Gateway. Human-rights organisations, big tech, and the United Nations all interpreted the law as conferring broad surveillance powers that have the potential to be employed as a means to suppress free speech and political opposition.

    Cambodia's government yesterday rejected that analysis of the Gateway's purpose.

    Continue reading
  • China's internet regulator squeezes famously freewheeling Reddit-alike
    App already banned, now it's getting very close supervision

    China's internet regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), has taken unusually strong action against a social network that has long been considered a thorn in the side of the nation's elites.

    The site in question is Douban: a Reddit-like affair that started life as a forum to discuss books, music, and film. In the years since its 2005 founding, the site has become known for attracting users who express opinions that China's government may well find displeasing. Commenters have, for example, generally been unafraid to share frank opinions of works considered to represent exceptional expressions of Chinese patriotism.

    That culture has sparked numerous controversies – most famously when users downvoted the film The Wandering Earth, based on a novel of the same name by Chinese sci-fi author Liu Cixin, whose works are considered seminal contributions to the genre in China. Liu's novel, The Three Body Problem, took the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2015, and is being adapted for Netflix by the showrunners who made Game of Thrones. Dissing Liu is therefore a big deal.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022