The Information Ministry yesterday warned that it would revoke the licences of print and online media outlets which distribute fake news that endanger national security.
Phos Sovann, director-general of General Department of Information and Broadcasting, said in a Facebook video post that the ministry will strictly implement laws against fake news, and come down hard on outlets which violate the terms of the licences or are not registered with the ministry.
“All websites operating in Cambodia must register with the Ministry of Information and obey the conditions, including strictly using the Kingdom’s KH domain, when publishing news,” he said, noting that the move is aimed at curtailing fake news.
Mr Sovann noted that over the past two years, 400 online media outlets had registered with the ministry and are operating across the Kingdom.
He said some of them have violated their conditions in minor ways, which did not affect national security, adding that they were given warnings and told to remove the offending content.
Mr Sovann added that if they did not take down the content or post corrections or still repeated such offences, the ministry would revoke their licences.
“The ministry will issue a public announcement when it revokes the licences of online or print media outlets that violated the terms of their licences or caused chaos in society by spreading misinformation,” Mr Sovan said.
Chea Pov, head of the Interior Ministry’s anti-cyber-crime department who also appeared in the video post, said that about 13 million out of the Kingdom’s 15 million population use the Internet.
He noted that the Internet enables people to spread news faster than traditional print media, and can cause confusion if they spread fake news.
Mr Pov said that those who unintentionally share fake news will also be considered to have committed a crime because they are spreading misleading information.
Both Mr Sovann and Mr Pov urged the public to cooperate with relevant ministries to combat the spread of fake news and advised them to check with registered media outlets whether the information they get from elsewhere is true.
Nop Vy, media director at the Cambodian Centre for Independent Media, yesterday said fake news has become a global concern because it causes chaos in society, noting that the relevant ministries need other solutions to tackle this problem.
“Revoking licences is not a good solution to crack down on fake news,” he said “It is better to have an unbiased media watchdog to tackle the issue.”
Mr Vy noted that most Cambodians who use social media are not aware of consequences of spreading misinformation or fake news and believe whatever information they come across.