Cambodia is aiming to no longer rely on Vietnam and Thailand for bandwidth and access to the international internet gateway.
Prime Minister Hun Sen during a cabinet meeting on Friday told Post and Telecommunication Ministry officials to look into how the Kingdom can have its own access.
“I request that post and telecommunication institutions to look into the issue,” Mr Hun Sen said. “We want [the access] so that we can manage matters related to Cambodia’s security.”
“Right now, we cannot protect our country. We need to do it now, otherwise, it will be like having a house without a fence. We also need to tax gateway operations as well,” he added.
Meas Po, spokesman for the Post and Telecommunication Ministry, said the ministry will work on Mr Hun Sen’s request.
“We are preparing our own access to the gateway, we call this the Internet International Exchange,” Mr Po said. “We will build a centre so we can control our own access.”
When asked to elaborate on what Mr Hun Sen said about the “management matters related to Cambodia’s security”, Mr Po said Cambodia currently relies on neighbouring countries to manage online security.
“They cannot control security management, but we can protect our data because of our IP address,” he said. “When we have access to our own gateway, we can control data and transmission very fast, especially in terms of security.”
Government spokesman Phay Siphan yesterday said the Kingdom must be able to manage online security.
“Firstly, we can control our national security through the monitoring of information related to terrorism,” Mr Siphan said. “Second, the country will receive revenue.”
Concerns over internet surveillance were brought up recently by Licadho after the Interior Ministry’s information technology department announced a plan to establish the “Security Operation Centre” to monitor security issues online.
Lieutenant General Hor Sam Ath, director of the IT department, earlier this month said the SOC’s purpose is to monitor online threats across all digital platforms, including smartphones and personal computers.
Am Sam Ath, monitoring manager with rights group Licadho, said he is concerned because the SOC will be used to restrict freedom of expression.
“The creation of the SOC in this circumstance is more to control rather than protect privacy on social media sites because we have seen monitoring by police officials,” Mr Sam Ath said. “I think the SOC will affect freedom of expression because rights are now being restricted.”