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Telegram’s protection opens gate to flood of porn

Taing Rinith / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
A man viewing pornographic content on a Cambodia-based Telegram channel. KT/ Pann Rachana

The social media app Telegram claims to be more secure than other chat platforms including Messenger, WhatsApp and Line, thanks to its encryption key to prevent data being read or secretly modified, other than by the true sender and recipient. The feature has proved to be useful for businesses and officials. However, it has also open the door for a host of illegal activities, one of which is illegal pornography. Taing Rinith looks behind this dark side of the technology.


An “invite link” posted on Facebook page with the cover picture showing a scantily-dressed lady brings the social media users to a Telegram channel which from a first glance, seems like a platform where people share news and common knowledge.

Nevertheless, the channel displays more invite links, which bring the users to private groups with thousands of members, in the comments. The admins and members of these group post pornographic contents featuring both Cambodian and foreign women, and even underage boys and girls, and even more invite links to similar groups and channels.

Many of the “actresses” appearing in the videos were have been filmed secretly or without their consent with smartphone cameras. Some were even raped.

In a private Telegram group called “Sharing Lesson”, there are more than three thousand pornographic videos and pictures viewed by more than two thousand members, mostly Cambodian. Many members are urging the group admin to post more of “the local stories”.

“If you have more Khmer videos, don’t enjoy it alone,” says a male member in a voice message. “Share it with us so that we can jerk off with it.”

A Cambodian Telegram user, who wants to be anonymous and left the group once she saw its pornographic content, says she was shocked when some male members sent her their nude pictures.

“I joined the group because I thought it was a place where people share useful information,” she tells Khmer Times. “I was wrong. It is a group of perverts!”

Another anonymous user, who is still in the group, thought it is not illegal to view such content.

“There are millions of porno website on the internet,” he says “And it is not hard to encounter Khmer porn. All you need to do is to google “Khmer sex”.”

Many videos shared by members in such groups are from the biggest porn sites in the world such as Xvideos and XNXX. But, can that be justified?

A crime against society and culture In March, 18-year-old Sok Theara was arrested by police in Phnom Penh on a pornography charge. The young man confessed that since early January he and several other friends had set up Telegram accounts to Telegram channels, groups and fake accounts for producing, storing and distributing pornographic videos and pictures.

Although some of the group and channels have by now been banned, many remain out there, sharing tens of thousands of pictures and videos every day.

Chou Bun Eng, an Interior Ministry secretary of state and secretary general of the Committee to Fight Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation says her institution has been working very hard to identify and hunt down the “opportunists”.

“Sharing illegal pornographic contents, especially child pornography, is against the anti-human trafficking law of the Kingdom of Cambodia, and the offenders shall face the penalty as stated by the law,” she says.

“Such contents seriously affect our nation’s culture and identity, especially Khmer women who are famous for their grace and dignity –not to mention the impact that they could have on those who were filmed secretly or forcibly and the rise in sexual abuses and harassment.”

Ms Bun Eng adds that despite the apprehending of their leader in march, the ill-intent opportunists are still active in spreading their “evil content”.

“Now, there people are more active than ever, as the government is having its hands full dealing with COVID-19 and traffic violations,” she says. “To make things worse, no thanks to the latest technologies [such as end-to-end encryption and VPN], it is very hard for us to pinpoint the sources of the pornographic content.”

Ms Bun Eng also says that those who are sharing pornographic content on Telegram and other social media platform are doing it for their own “satisfaction and desire” instead of financial gains. However, in most of these channels and private groups, there are advertisements posted by freelance sex workers and the sellers of sexual products such as sex toys and sex stimulants.

It seems like the contents are posted in order to draw the viewers’ attention to those advertisements.

Khmer Times could not contact Chea Pov, The Ministry of Interior’s Anti-Cybercrime Department director, for comment.

A double-edge technology Telegram, with its cloud-based technology and end-to-end encryption, has facilitates businesses and other fields.

It allows users to send, store and forward files of any size among other things.

However, it also allows for anonymous forwards which means the message will not lead back to the users’ account. The users can also unsend messages and delete entire chats on their’s and other people’s accounts, thereby wiping out proof of anything that had been sent.

This opens the door for many illegal activities on the platform in many countries apart from the Kingdom. In India, for example, Telegram groups through which drugs and illegal pornography are bought and sold have been reported.

However, the social media app also comes up with its own preventive policy against pornographic content. According to its website, when the user accepts its private policy, he or she agree not to “Post illegal pornographic content on publicly viewable Telegram channels, bots, etc”.

“If Telegram receives a court order that confirms you’re a terror suspect, we may disclose your IP address and phone number to the relevant authorities. So far, this has never happened,” says the Telegram website.

Also, channels and groups reported to “spread pornographic content” will be banned.

“That’s why all of us have to report those bad channels and groups,” Ms Bun Eng says. “All of us have to do our part to protect women, children and our national dignity.”

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