Saturday, February 27, 2010

Who will be Big Brother? Ministers differ on Internet controls

I think it is very thoughtful of the Cambodian government to consider the consequences of granting a single government entity the exclusive rights to monitoring and filtering all of the internet traffic for Cambodia. This is a particularly sticky point when it comes to encouraging free market policies since government-controlled services are the opposite of free-market capitalism.

100226_5Photo by: Rick Valenzuela
Suong Senghuot, a line supervisor for the Internet service provider WiCam, checks for data service on the corner of Monireth and Sihanouk boulevards.

Friday, 26 February 2010
Brooke Lewis and Sam Rith
The Phnom Penh Post

SENIOR ministers on Thursday were in apparent disagreement over the extent to which the state-owned company Telecom Cambodia would be able to block access to individual Web sites if it were granted control of the country’s Internet exchange – a move both company and government officials are reportedly looking to implement as soon as possible.

An official from the company on Tuesday said it would seek to block access to Web sites deemed inappropriate for a range of reasons, a statement that drew fresh outcry from representatives of the private telecommunications sector, one of whom said it could be “very dangerous” for the government to filter online content.

“If any Web site attacks the government, or any Web site displays inappropriate images such as pornography, or it’s against the principle of the government, we can block all of them,” Chin Daro said. “If TC plays the role of the exchange point, it will benefit Cambodian society because the government has trust in us, and we can control Internet consumption.”

In any case, rights groups and private telecommunications sector representatives have expressed concern over the plan to funnel traffic through TC’s exchange point, with some painting it as a threat to freedom of information.

MPTC and TC officials have said that the proposal stems from national security interests and a desire to preserve cultural values, but some private sector representatives have countered that the government is attempting to mask an attempt to make money from Internet traffic.

For the full article, go here.

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