Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cambodia blocks blogspot

If you are reading this you are probably not in Cambodia.

In a huge step backwards, it appears that the Cambodian government has requested internet providers in Cambodia to block all Google blogspot/blogger sites. This has presumably been done in order to ban one website in particular from Cambodian eyes: KI Media.

KI Media is a largely political, opposition-leaning blog that republishes current news stories regarding Cambodia (that it lifts from other sources) and also publishes various opinion pieces on Cambodia. The Cambodian government has complained of KI Media for years, particularly of late, for what it considers to be KI Media's inflammatory, provocative and insulting language and criticisms of the government and government figures.

Personally, I don't like KI Media. It is, as the government claims, inflammatory, provocative and insulting. I would also add: highly biased, vulgar, often racist and having no regard for copyrights and the intellectual property of others. That said, they are, for better or worse, a member of the online media, and a country which respects freedom of the press would not attempt to censor this political voice. Sadly, it seems that the Cambodian government has done just that.

Cambodia is well advanced of its neighbors with regard to press freedom. All manner of websites are blocked in Vietnam, Thailand and Burma. And their print media is no freer. Cambodia stood apart in Southeast Asia, with completely open and free access to internet and a comparatively good record in regard to the print media as well, especially the English language press. (This is not to say that Cambodia has been a model in this regard. There have been some problems including the occasional intimidation of members of the Cambodian press, threats of blocking interneta controversial film banned from showing, and a recent assault on a Phnom Penh Post photographer covering the Boeung Kak Lake eviction story.) But actually blocking blogs, particularly a political a blog, is a new and very large step backwards for the freedom of speech and press in Cambodia. If it has actually occurred and remains in force, it is likely the beginning of a long a slippery slope of internet censorship in Cambodia.

At this point the internet block has only been partially confirmed and there are varying reports of its extent. Cambodia has several internet providers and some seem to have blocked more than others. For example, as of early this morning Telesurf did not appear to be blocking any websites. Some Online users report that they are unable to access KI Media though other blogspot sites are available. But Ezecom users report that all blogspot websites are inaccessible. I called Online and Ezecom here in Phnom Penh and asked about the rumors of blocked websites. Online said that it had not blocked any websites. But Ezecom informed me that as of today, "the Ministry of Interior has requested all ISP providers in Cambodia to block all of blogspot, (which we have done.)"

UPDATE: 10:10PM, 19/1/11 - The Phnom Penh Post has just reported that government officials are denying that there has been any official order to block blogspot. The Ministry of Post and Telecommunication (MPTC) has denied it categorically. The Ministry of Interior seems less sure. Ezecom, the ISP provider that told me that they received notice from the Ministry of Interior to block blogspot, is now hemming and hawing.

Khmer440 discussion: Blogger barred by RCG

EAS Report

29 comments:

  1. I can't comment on the ISP provider, since I am in a hotel, but the sites are definitely blocked here (though using a VPN solves it quickly).

    ReplyDelete
  2. and despite being in Cambodia with a provider who is blocking blogspot, I'll post a comment.

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  3. like the era of Suharto in Indonesia,
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