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New ministry council to track illicit content posted online

Va Sonyka / Khmer Times Share:
Culture Minister Phoeurng Sackona speaks to reporters. KT/Srey Kumneth

The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts on Tuesday formed a Disciplinary and Accolade Council to control activities on social media in a bid to fight the proliferation of malicious content, which could negatively impact society.

The measure comes after Prime Minister Hun Sen warned legal action against online sellers dressing provocatively while advertising on social media.

Speaking during a meeting with the National Council for Women in February, Mr Hun Sen said female Facebook users, particularly sellers who dress in revealing clothes while selling online, could sully the Kingdom’s values, customs and the dignity of Khmer women.

Culture Minister Phoeurng Sackona, in a statement on Tuesday, said the newly formed council, headed by her, would consist of 33 members. The council will be posting announcements

on measures to prevent the dissemination of content that could potentially mar Khmer culture and traditions.

In addition, the council will launch its website and pages on social media, creating various platforms through which information could be disseminated widely.

“We will pay close attention and take the necessary measures against websites and social media users that lower the value of Cambodia’s customs and traditions,” said Ms Sackona, noting such action is punishable under at least three laws – the Code of Ethics of Artists, the Inter-Ministerial directive No 170 and the Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation.

The Code of Ethics of Artists stipulates artists who abuse the culture and tradition of Cambodia will be fined and ordered to publicly acknowledge their mistake.

The Inter-Ministerial directive No 170 mandates the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, in cooperation with the Information Ministry and other relevant ministries, to block and shut down websites or social media channels that run illegal businesses or publish content that puts the national security, public interest and social order in peril.

Finally, the Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation warrants that any person caught distributing, selling, leasing, displaying or presenting pornography on public platforms can be jailed for between seven days and one month in prison and fined from $25 to $50.

In February, online seller Thai Sreyneang was arrested for disobeying the law despite several warnings given against her selling products online while clad in “sexy” clothing. She was later convicted to six months in prison for “pornography and indecent exposure” under Articles 38 and 39 of the Law on the Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation.

Facebook user Srey Touch said she noticed many online sellers of cosmetic products dress provocatively while streaming live on Facebook. She said such advertising strategy is inappropriate and should not be shared on social media.

In response to the creation of the new council, Ms Touch said: “It is a good measure as we need to prevent such content from ruining our cultural and social fabric.”

Likewise, Yorn Yong, president of writing association Pen International-Cambodia, lauded the formation of  the council as it presents a good opportunity to better Cambodian social media.

In terms of music videos and lyrics, Mr Yong said he has noticed many people recycling old content and modifying such with inappropriate words and graphics. This, he said, lowers the value or the message of the original content and demotivates its owner.

“Nowadays people use social media to sow dissent and inappropriate content. It would be great to have a working group to keep track of these perpetrators,” said Mr Yong.

“But this must be dealt with the community as a whole. For it to work, the Ministry of Culture and the Cambodian people must unite to stop the proliferation of malicious content on online platforms,” he added.

Nowadays people use social media to sow dissent and inappropriate content.

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