Freedom on the Net

Cambodia

Freedom on the Net 2014
Population: 14.4 million
Internet Penetration: 6 percent
Social Media/ICT Apps Blocked: No
Political/Social Content Blocked: Yes
Bloggers/ICT Users Arrested: No
Press Freedom Status: Not Free
2014 Freedom On the Net Total (0 = Best, 100 = Worst) 47

2014 Scores

Freedom on the Net Status

Partly Free

Freedom on the Net Total
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

47
(0 = Best, 100 = Worst)

Obstacles to Access
(0 = best, 25 = worst)

14
(0 = Best, 25 = Worst)

Limits on Content
(0 = best, 35 = worst)

15
(0 = Best, 35 = Worst)

Violations of User Rights
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

18
(0 = Best, 40 = Worst)
  • 2013 Freedom On the Net Total (0 = Best, 100 = Worst) 47
Key Developments: 

May 2013 - May 2014

  • A draft Cybercrime Law leaked in 2014 threatens to criminalize poorly-defined categories of online expression under a committee led by the prime minister (see Violations of User Rights).
  • As social media fuelled support of the political opposition in advance of July 2013 elections, the National Election Committee warned internet users not to post “wrong information” online (see Limits on Content).
  • Police used the threat of criminal defamation charges to compel two separate Facebook users to delete posts containing allegations about corrupt officers (see Violations of User Rights).
  • Imprisoned land rights activist Yorm Bopha was released on bail in November 2013 after sustained civil society campaigns raised her profile online and overseas; her appeal is pending (see Limits on Content). 
Introduction: 

The internet is partly free in Cambodia, and is therefore a rare source of uncensored information in comparison to other media, though it still reaches a limited portion of the population. The July 2013 National Assembly elections saw the widespread use of digital tools, especially amongst young voters, to exchange views, debate, and organize. Notably, the main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) embraced social networks to campaign, which offset their virtual exclusion from state-controlled media coverage. News that CNRP leader Sam Rainsy would return from exile to campaign for the first time since 2009 was broken on social media,[1] and subsequently ignored by every television station in the country.[2]

Despite incremental gains by the CNRP and others, the incumbent Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) won by a narrow margin and Prime Minister Hun Sen retained power, according to the National Election Committee (NEC). Their count was heavily contested by the opposition as well as independent observers.[3] Elected CNRP parliamentarians refused to take their seats in the National Assembly for the duration of this coverage period,[4] and their supporters used on- and offline methods to call for Hun Sen’s resignation and an independent investigation into voting irregularities.[5] This activity prompted fears of increased censorship and unconfirmed reports that one internet service provider (ISP) temporarily blocked Facebook in August. “We have nothing to gain by closing Facebook, and we have no criminal law regarding the internet,” Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said, after access to the platform was restored.[6]

The government has been in the process of drafting an anticybercrime law, however, since 2012. Draft provisions leaked in April 2014 penalized poorly-defined categories of online expression.[7] Even without such a law, internet freedom has begun to erode. At least three blogs hosted overseas are blocked on multiple ISPs for perceived antigovernment content. In 2013, police in two different cities threatened Facebook users with criminal defamation charges for posts alleging corruption in traffic enforcement. Death threats and negative rhetoric, particularly targeting those speaking out for Vietnamese migrants in Cambodian society were another troubling development of the past year. These cases of intimidation help encourage self-censorship online among bloggers and the wider population. The overall climate for political expression looked set to deteriorate further after demonstrations by CNRP supporters along with garment workers arguing for a higher minimum wage sparked a violent crackdown resulting in the death of five people, dozens of injuries, 23 arrests, and an arbitrary ban on demonstrations in January 2014.[8]

Obstacles to Access: 

The International Telecommunication Union reported internet penetration in Cambodia, while increasing steadily, remained comparatively low at 6 percent in 2013.[9] Cambodia’s Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPTC) reported 3.8 million Internet users as of December 2013.[10] Mobile phone penetration was at 134 percent due to the fact that many Cambodians own more than one low cost phone.

Historically, the absence of an extensive fixed landline network restricted internet penetration in rural Cambodia. Wireless broadband is helping to bridge a significant digital divide between rural and urban internet users, though a striking economic disparity persists. About 98 percent of internet users today have wireless access via satellite or Wi-Fi, according to the MPTC.[11]

As in 2013, more than 20 ISPs were operating in the Cambodian market—government accounts cite as many as 27[12]—offering competitive rates for high-speed internet, at around US$12 a month.[13] In June 2013, the country’s largest ISP, EZECOM, announced that it plans to construct Cambodia’s first submarine fiber-optic internet cable.[14] The cable will connect Cambodia with the rest of the world via the Asia-American Gateway. Scheduled for completion in October 2014, it is expected to greatly improve internet speeds and reduce costs for end users.

In the meantime, poor infrastructure still limits access. Insufficient electricity, often resulting in nationwide blackouts, imposes additional constraints on computer and internet use. Connections can also be extremely slow, especially in rural areas.

Language is another barrier, since few online applications are coded in Khmer. However, technology companies and information and communication technology (ICT) experts have made significant investments into the development of Khmer language applications. The Khmer Unicode font became widely available after the government recognized it as a standard in 2010.[15] Both Google’s Khmer translation tool and an English-Khmer translation system by local developers Sous Samak and Kim Sokphearum were launched in 2013.[16] With these efforts, it is hoped that Khmer speaking netizens will be able to read non-Khmer content and vice versa, connecting Cambodian netizens to a broader audience and a wider pool of information.

With poor transportation and electricity coverage, mobile phones offer the most convenient access to a range of services including radio, music, and video, as well as web access. Mobile phone users surpassed the number using fixed landlines surprisingly early in Cambodia, and have gained popularity since 2000 even at the bottom of the economic pyramid, thanks to the free SIM cards, affordable handsets, and bonuses offered by service providers to attract consumers.[17] 

There are currently 7 such providers operating in 2014, down from 10 the previous year following several mergers and the addition of some newcomers.[18] The market remains competitive despite two attempts by the MPTC to set the price of mobile calls in 2013, which observers said were designed to protect companies with links to officials from losing out to their competitors. The ministry banned mobile providers from offering bonuses in April, but withdrew the restriction after a public outcry.[19] On November 28, 2013, the MPTC ordered all mobile network providers to comply with prices outlined in a 2009 government directive.[20] Mobile users and the business community again voiced objections, and the ban was revoked in December following a meeting of relevant stakeholders, including the MPTC and mobile network providers. It was the second time in seven months that the ministry was forced to cancel an order within 20 days of issuing it.[21]

With the exception of one short-lived attempt by the NEC to ban SMS nationwide in advance of a 2007 election under a law prohibiting campaigning immediately before a vote,[22] no government shutdowns of internet or mobile access have been documented in Cambodia.

In theory, the government welcomes and supports technology and infrastructure developments. However, despite public claims to support freedom of expression by Information Minister Khieu Kanharith and others,[23] officials at both local and national levels have taken steps to curtail internet access through ad hoc circulars and announcements.[24] Challenges to these have yielded mixed results. A 2010 plan to strengthen internet security through a state-run exchange controlling all local ISPs was shelved due to popular opposition.[25]  A 2012 circular equated online gaming with terrorism, economic crime, and pornography, and ordered all internet cafes within a 500-meter radius of educational institutions in the capital, Phnom Penh, to close—an order which observers said would affect almost every venue in the city.[26] Penalties for failing to comply with the circular include forced closure, the confiscation of equipment, and even arrest, though it has yet to be implemented. Most recently, in December 2013, on the other hand, authorities in northwestern Siem Reap province threatened access for the wider population when they announced the closure of more than 40 internet cafes for supposedly distracting youth with online games.[27] Owners must gain official permission to reopen and, if denied, there is no known mechanism for appeal.

In September 2012, the Telecommunication Regulator of Cambodia was established by royal decree and charged with formulating fair and transparent policies, strengthening market competition, and encouraging the further development of Cambodia’s ICT market outside the direct control of the government.[28] It has yet to act publicly on its remit and whether it will be able to operate independently and effectively is not known.

Limits on Content: 

Commentators noted an increase in online political discourse around the 2013 election—especially on social networks like Facebook and media-sharing platforms such as YouTube—and heralded the continued development of digital democracy in Cambodia.[29] The sites continued to play a significant role after the polls as users spread videos and information alleging voting fraud, though these have yet to result in an investigation. While only a handful of political blogs hosted overseas are blocked in Cambodia, several officials made statements warning internet users not to misuse social networks in the past year, prompting fears that censorship could yet be extended online. Online activism saw more success on social and human rights issues, helping to achieve the release of a jailed land rights activist on bail.

Websites showing pornography or sexually explicit images are subject to blocking in Cambodia on moral grounds. Politically motivated blocking has not yet been systematically applied, although it has been observed on a case by case basis. Implementation in either case is nontransparent, apparently based on informal communications between government officials and service providers, which provide no avenue for appeal. In early 2011, for example, Minister of Posts and Telecommunication So Khun asked mobile phone operators to “cooperate” in blocking websites “that affect Khmer morality and tradition and the government,” according to The Phnom Penh Post, citing internal MPTC minutes.[30] 

As a result, censorship is hard to verify. In 2009, the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) reported the AngkorNet ISP was blocking access to a report by the UK-based NGO Global Witness, because it criticized government corruption. AngkorNet confirmed the content was temporarily inaccessible to subscribers, but said it was due to a technical error.[31] Since then, international NGO and news websites have been widely available.

In 2011, several ISPs briefly blocked the international hosting service Blogspot after the popular overseas-run Cambodian blog KI-Media ran a post calling the prime minister and other high-level officials “traitors.”[32] While Blogspot was restored, a handful of individual sites hosted on the service, including KI-Media, critical citizen journalist blog Khmerization, and a blog by the Khmer political cartoonist Sacrava, were blocked again the following month. The government denied involvement, but one ISP posted error messages saying the sites were blocked on MPTC orders, and The Phnom Penh Post leaked the contents of an email sent by an MPTC official thanking 10 ISPs for implementing the blocks.[33] At least three of the sites remained inaccessible on some ISPs without the use of circumvention tools in 2014.

Partly as a result of events like these, self-censorship remains an issue amongst many Cambodian bloggers (or “cloggers”), who often fear the repercussions of sharing political views online.[34] Events like Barcamp, a networking gathering for technology professionals, attest to the increasing number of bloggers, especially well-educated people in their twenties. [35] But the majority blog about personal, rather than political events.[36] Nevertheless, there are a number of political websites available to Cambodian youth, and many continue to read even blocked content using privacy tools such as virtual private networks (VPNs), which disguise online activity via an uncensored connection overseas. The government has not tried to curb access to these tools, although there is no data indicating how widely they are used.

In the run up to the July 2013 national election, there was a marked increase in the use of SMS and the internet by political parties and young Cambodians alike, to discuss, debate, and share information and opinions about the upcoming polling. With technical support from the Cambodian NGO Open Institute and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, the NEC launched a voice-based information service for voters.[37] Perhaps most significantly, the opposition used Facebook to communicate with supporters and to coordinate rallies, despite remaining marginalized in public discourse due to strict media controls.[38] Some of these controls affected websites run by media outlets, though possibly through internal pressure rather than technological censorship. One reporter said his Khmer-language newspaper article about a May 2013 opposition rally was “mysteriously removed” after he uploaded it.[39] Overall, however, many observers credited the CNRP’s 55 seats to their online popularity; the CPP lost some seats but retains a majority with 68.[40]

While politicians abused their opponents online,[41] there was no noticeable deployment of paid commentators distorting discussions according to a political agenda during this period. Still, many fear the CPP could yet restrain political expression online. In May 2013, the NEC told social media users not to “create fear, confusion or a loss of confidence in the secrecy of the vote.”[42] On the same day, in remarks made to students, Information Minister Khieu Kanharith warned them not to use Facebook to impugn the reputation of others.[43] On August 7, many Facebook users reported the site was unavailable for several hours on the popular Metfone ISP, prompting fears the government had blocked it to suppress online activism.[44] Khieu Kanharith denied responsibility for the disruption, which Metfone attributed to technical error.[45]

In the aftermath of the election, opposition supporters continued to use social media to spread evidence of alleged voting fraud and call for an independent investigation, but these efforts have yet to see results. When antigovernment protests swelled in the capital in December and were violently suppressed in January 2014, online networks helped challenge the censored state media account of events,[46] even as a ban on public gatherings attempted to prevent such information from mobilizing effective political challenges.

A range of netizens and grassroots activists have used new media and other online tools to make an impact on less overtly political issues. Online activism like this has raised awareness of compelling issues in the public interest, such as the environment and traffic safety, and contributed to Cambodia’s social and political development. In one recent success, land rights activist Yorm Bopha was released on bail in November 2013 after a year and a half behind bars in relation to allegations that she was involved in the assault of two motorbike taxi drivers, which her supporters characterized as politically motivated.  The Supreme Court ordered her case to be reinvestigated and reheard by the Phnom Penh Court of Appeal following sustained local and international campaigns for her release, including online petitions and general awareness-raising via social media and NGO websites.[47]

Violations of User Rights: 

In April 2014, digital freedom activists expressed concern over a leaked cybercrime law which was drafted without public consultation. While it is not known if the draft will be passed in its current form, it criminalizes a range of ill-defined activities such as generating “instability,” would punish online slander worse than the same crime committed offline, and allows prosecutors rather than judges to order the retention of computer data in criminal investigations. Implementation of the law would be at the discretion of a government committee headed by the prime minister. During the coverage period, police questioned Facebook users who had posted allegations of misconduct related to enforcement of motorcycle registration rules, though the criminal defamation charges the individuals were threatened with never materialized. Accounts of death threats circulating online also rose. The climate of intimidation was reinforced by a harsh security response to offline demonstrators, which resulted in several deaths.

Freedom of expression and freedom of the press are upheld under Article 41 of the Cambodian Constitution. The constitution also upholds the provisions in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Cambodia in 1992, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, both of which guarantee the right to freedom of expression and information.

Despite these protections on paper, freedom of expression is not upheld in practice. Provisions in the 2010 penal code governing criminal defamation and incitement have been used to punish journalists who criticize the government.[48] The authorities regularly punish dissent through threats, judicial harassment, and sometimes violence. In 2012, Human Rights Watch reported “at least 35 political and social activists and residents involved in defending human rights, opposing land grabs, and demanding better working conditions were killed, wounded, arbitrarily arrested, threatened with arrest, or kept in exile by Cambodian People Party (CPP)-led security forces and the CPP-controlled judiciary.”[49] These punishments are a powerful disincentive to individuals and organizations that wish to express their own views.

The election and the contested result served as a catalyst for intensified restrictions on political association. In early January 2014, opposition supporters protesting against the election result joined garment workers campaigning for a higher wage in the capital.[50] Security forces responded violently and banned demonstrations until “public order and security are restored.”[51]  A number of land activists, CNRP political activists, and media freedom advocates were subsequently detained or dispersed. Draft laws to regulate nongovernmental organizations and unions pending since 2010 and 2011 respectively contain repressive provisions that threaten to further chill freedom of association,[52] and could have a negative impact on online expression in future political movements.[53] The draft law on unions, for example, contains provisions that would make trade unions vulnerable to dissolution, and provides too much discretion for the government to regulate the process. The laws are expected to be reintroduced in 2014.[54]

A cybercrime law currently being drafted by the government could add another tool to the legislative arsenal used by officials to repress their critics. While the legislation will ostensibly combat cybercrime, the use of existing laws to limit free expression along with the ad hoc, opaque efforts to regulate internet access and content set troubling precedents for the law’s potential abuse by the state.

A lack of transparency and consultation over the law’s development since it was proposed in May 2012 is further cause for concern.[55] A ministerial press unit initially characterized it as a law to “prevent ill-willed groups from spreading false information” that could “affect national security,” citing 2012 SMS rumors of a violent political clash in Phnom Penh as an example.[56] Officials later said it would be modeled on European Union legislation to “protect formal, private and copy-righted data from hacking, or the destruction of users’ formal data, especially banks and related institutions.”[57] Civil society organizations have been denied a chance to formally review or provide input for a draft.  

In April 2014, the freedom of expression advocacy group Article19 obtained a copy of the Cybercrime Law Draft V.1 and published an unofficial translation.[58] Some of its worrying provisions include Article 28(3), which prohibits publications “deemed to generate insecurity, instability and political cohesiveness [sic];” Article 28(4), which prohibits “undermining the integrity of any governmental agencies;” and Article 28(5), which prohibits publications “deemed damaging to the moral and cultural values of the society,” including those which are considered “manipulation, defamation and slanders [sic].” The draft carries potential prison sentences of one to three years and fines ranging from KHR 2 to 6 million ($490 to $1,480). By contrast, offline slander is punishable by a maximum of one year behind bars.[59] The lack of adequate definitions in the law is especially concerning considering the proposed make-up of a National Anti-Cybercrime Committee to enforce, investigate, and regulate cybercrime laws, established in Article 6, which will consist of high-ranking members of government under the chairmanship of the prime minister. The draft further grants prosecutors authority to issue court orders to preserve computer and traffic data for purposes of criminal investigation, rather than judges. The timeframe for revisions of the draft and passage of the law is not known. 

Some authorities have already extended existing defamation and incitement laws to online content. In 2010, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court used Article 495 of the new penal code to sentence UN Food Program employee Seng Kunnaka to six months’ imprisonment and a fine of KHR 1 million ($250) on a charge of incitement to commit a felony after he printed articles from KI-Media for a handful of colleagues.[60] In 2013, police twice threatened Facebook users who had posted allegations of misconduct related to the enforcement of motorcycle registration rules. Teacher Phel Phearun was questioned and threated with a defamation charge in May after his account of an encounter with Phnom Pehn traffic police, posted on Facebook in January, sparked an online debate about police corruption.[61] Six months later, in the northwestern city of Stueng Treng, police detained 23-year-old marketing manager Cheth Sovichea for a day after he used his Facebook profile to accuse local officers of confiscating unregistered motorcycles to solicit bribes. He avoided a defamation charge by removing the offending post and publicly apologizing.[62]

Phnom Pehn-based freelance journalist Rupert Winchester faced a defamation suit during the coverage period for an article about a businessman published on his personal blog in June 2013. In July 2014, outside the coverage period of this report, he was fined KHR 8 million ($2,000) and ordered to pay KHR 1 hundred million ($25,000) in damages, in a verdict local and international press groups called detrimental to online freedom of expression.[63] 

The internet has itself become a medium for threats and intimidation of public figures in Cambodia. In December 2013, members of the CNRP said their deputy leader Kem Sokha had received a death threat containing photographs of a gun and ammunition via Facebook, apparently from an account belonging to a police officer, who denied sending it.[64] Also in December, the leader of NGO the Cambodian Center for Human Rights Ou Virak was targeted with a barrage of online abuse via Facebook and email after he criticized the leader of the CNRP for using discriminatory language about Vietnamese immigrants.[65] Though negative rhetoric spiked, however, and physical harassment of traditional journalists continued unabated,[66] there were no accounts of violence in retribution for online activity during the coverage period of this report.

Government surveillance of citizens’ digital activity is not known to be technologically advanced or widespread in Cambodia. However, in February 2012, a joint Ministry of Interior and MPTC circular ordered internet cafes to set up surveillance cameras and store footage for three months; phone shops and telecommunications operators were told to register subscribers’ national ID cards or international passport and visas on the grounds that such measures would “better promote protection of national security, safety and social order.”[67] The operators “are obliged to provide necessary documents including users’ identity cards and used data”—which must be stored for six days—to designated officials “for purposes of investigation of any offense which is involved in issues of national security, safety and social order.” Under the internal circular—which only came to public notice in August 2012—providers must also notify existing subscribers of the new requirements and are entitled to temporarily suspend service if they fail to produce ID within a month. As of April 2014, in accordance with Cambodia’s habitually slow pace of adopting new regulation, the requirements had yet to be implemented, though civil society groups fear the impact of such supervision for public debate and social activism. The circular’s vague definition of what constitutes an offense, the lack of judicial oversight over officials’ requests for user data, and the threat of unspecified fines or licensing restrictions for telecommunications operators who fail to comply, all represent a lack of respect for digital rights.

While experts say technical attacks frequently go unreported in Cambodia, civil society groups and government critics have not been systematically targeted by criminal hackers. Government websites are vulnerable to technical violence, which increased during the 2013 election period. In July 2013, the NEC website was temporarily disrupted following allegations that the government was trying to register illegal immigrants to vote.[68]  In September, the global hacking group Anonymous posted an online declaration of war against the Cambodian government following the fatal shooting of a bystander, Mao Sok Chan,[69] at a clash between military police and opposition protesters.[70] Several websites belonging to ministries, the police, educational institutions, and other organizations with ties to the government were briefly disabled in attacks attributed to the group. However, four alleged members of the hacking group Anonymous Cambodia were reportedly arrested during the coverage period of this report.[71] Although the timing could be a coincidence, the arrests could help the government build a case for the public in favor of a restrictive cybercrime law that fails to distinguish adequately between illegal acts and legitimate expression.

Notes: 
 

[1] Marta Kasztelan, “Cambodia: Social media fuels new politics,”  Asia Times Online, August 6, 2013, http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Southeast_Asia/SEA-01-060813.html. Rainsy chose exile overseas to avoid imprisonment on charges international observers described as politicized. See, Prak Chan Thul, “Cambodian Opposition Leader Sam Rainsy Returns Home, Joins Poll Campaign,” Reuters, July 19, 2013, http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/19/us-cambodia-election-rainsy-idUSBRE96I0C620130719.

[2] The Electoral Reform Alliance, “Joint Report on the Conduct of the 2013 Cambodian Elections,” November 9, 2013, http://www.comfrel.org/eng/components/com_mypublications/files/684510eERA_Joint_Report_on_Cambodian_Elections_2013_Final.pdf.

[3] The Electoral Reform Alliance, “Joint Report.”

[4] Radio Free Asia, “Cambodian Opposition Leader Set to Join Parliament,” July 24, 2014,

 http://www.rfa.org/english/news/cambodia/leader-07242014164325.html.

[5] Kevin Doyle, “Challenging Cambodia's strongman Hun Sen,” Al Jazeera, January 1, 2014, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2014/01/challenging-cambodia-strongman-hun-sen-20141184836510703.html.

[6] Phak Seangly and Shane Worrell, “Facebook Safe: Government,” Phnom Penh Post, August 12, 2013, http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/facebook-safe-government.

[7] “Draft Cybercrime Law,” available at Sithi, http://sithi.org/temp.php?url=law_detail.php&lg=&id=258

[8] Cambodian Center for Human Rights,  “Ban on Assemblies, Marches and Demonstrations in Cambodia,” case study, January 10, 2014, http://www.cchrcambodia.org/index_old.php?url=media/media.php&p=factsheet_detail.php&fsid=60&id=5.                  

[9] International Telecommunication Union, “Percentage of Individuals Using the Internet, 2000-2013,” http://bit.ly/14IIykM.

[10] Ben Sokhean, “Mobile Users Top 20 Million, Internet Usage Still Rising,“ Cambodia Daily, http://www.cambodiadaily.com/business/mobile-users-top-20-million-internet-usage-still-rising-55024/, March 27, 2014.

[11] Suy Heimkhemra, “Cheap Data, Better Tech Putting More Cambodians Online,” Voice of America, March 25, 2013, http://www.voanews.com/content/cheap-data-better-tech-putting-more-cambodians-online/1628531.html.

[12] O.U. Phannarith, Head of CamCERT and Permanent Member of Cybercrime Law, Working Group of National ICT Development Authority, “Cambodia Effort in Fighting Cybercrime in the Absence of Law,” slideshow presented at the Asia Pacific Regional Mock Court, Jakarta, Indonesia, September 18-19, 2012.

[13] Heimkhemra, “Cheap Data, Better Tech Putting More Cambodians Online.”

[14] Arno Maierbregger, “Cambodia to Speed Up Internet with $80m Submarine Cable,” Investvine, June 26, 2013,  http://investvine.com/cambodia-to-speed-up-internet-with-submarine-cable; “Cambodia, M'sia Sign $80 mln Agreement for Telecom Improvement in Cambodia,” The Cambodia Herald, June, 25 2013, http://www.thecambodiaherald.com/cambodia/detail/1?page=13&token=YTk2YmQxNDJlNDR.

[15] Sebastian Strangio and Khouth Sophak Chakrya, “Unicode Opens Door for Khmer Computing,” May 2, 2008, http://www.phnompenhpost.com/special-reports/unicode-opens-door-khmer-computing.

[16] Arne Mauser, “Google Translate now Supports Khmer,” Official Google Translate Blog, April 18, 2013, http://bit.ly/18efRin; Prak Chanseyha, “Two Young Cambodian Women Develop an Automatic Translation System” [In Khmer], March 26, 2013, http://news.sabay.com.kh/articles/391769.

[17] Sopheap Chak, “Mobile Technology gives Cambodians a Voice,” UPI Asia Online, 23 April 2010, http://bit.ly/a6vs0S.

[18] Ben Sokhean, “Mobile Users Top 20 Million, Internet Usage Still Rising,“; May Kunmakara and Anne Renzenbrink, “Mfone to End ‘Difficult Time,” Phnom Penh Post, January 14, 2013, http://www.phnompenhpost.com/business/mfone-end-%E2%80%98difficult-time%E2%80%99; Joshua Wilwohl, “Hello, Smart Mobile Operators Agree to Merge,” Cambodia Daily, December 14, 2012, http://www.cambodiadaily.com/archive/hello-smart-mobile-operators-agree-to-merge-6673/; Eddie Morton and May Kunmakara, “Telcos to form association,” Phnom Penh Post, December 20, 2013, http://www.phnompenhpost.com/business/telcos-form-association.

[19] Kaing Menghun and Joshua Wilwohl, “Ban on Generous Mobile Top-Up Offers Lifted,” Cambodia Daily, May 7, 2013, http://www.cambodiadaily.com/archive/ban-on-generous-mobile-top-up-offers-lifted-22713/; Kaing Menghun and Joshua Wilwohl, “Mobile Bonuses Axed after Firm Complaint,” Cambodia Daily, May 2, 2013, http://bit.ly/16zRyyd.

[20] Calls would cost a minimum of 4.5 cents per minute on the same network and 5.95 cents per minute on different networks. Joshua Wilwohl, “Despite Ban, Operators Offer Bonuses,” Cambodia Daily, December 19, 2013, http://www.cambodiadaily.com/archives/despite-ban-operators-offer-bonuses-49483/.

[21] Hul Reaksmey and Joshua Wilwohl, “Council of Ministers Nullifies Telecom Law,” Cambodia Daily, December 23, 2013, http://www.cambodiadaily.com/business/council-of-ministers-nullifies-telecom-law-49573/.

[22] Norbert Klein, “Civil Society Organizations Said That The National Election Committee Caused Fear To The Citizen Who Are The Electorate,” Cambodia Mirror, April 1, 2007, http://www.cambodiamirror.org/2007/04/01/saturday-3132007-civil-society-organizations-said-that-the-national-election-committee-caused-fear-to-the-citizen-who-are-the-electorate/.

[23] “Minister: Democracy Exists Without Opposition Newspapers,” Cambodia Herald, May 3, 2013, http://bit.ly/18zuUnz.

[24] A circular is a measure endorsed by a minister or the prime minister to explain a point of law or to provide guidance with regards to a point of law.  It is advisory in nature, and does not have binding legal force, though it can include penalties for non-compliance.   

[25] Brooke Lewis and Sam Rith, “Ministers Differ on Internet Controls,” Phnom Penh Post, February 26, 2010, http://www.phnompenhpost.com/index.php/2010022632744/National-news/ministers-differ-on-internet-controls.html; Sopheap Chak, “Cambodia's Great Internet Firewall?” Global Voices Online, March 2, 2010, http://bit.ly/brP14M.

[26] LICADHO, “New Circular Aims to Shut Down Internet Cafes in Cambodia,” press release, December 13, 2012, http://www.licadho-cambodia.org/pressrelease.php?perm=298; Urban Voice Cambodia, “Save the Internet Cafes Campaign,” March 15, 2013, http://bit.ly/1bR8pxp.

[27] Thik Kaliyan, “Internet Cafes Closed Because Kids ‘Absorbed,’” Phnom Penh Post, December 5, 2013, http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/internet-caf%C3%A9s-closed-because-kids-%E2%80%98absorbed%E2%80%99.

[28] Telecommunication Regulator of Cambodia, “Background,” http://www.trc.gov.kh/index.php/en/newsCategory/view?id=32.

[29] Sophat Soeung, “Social Media’s Growing Influence On Cambodian Politics,” Asia Pacific Bulletin 222 (July 13, 2013), http://www.eastwestcenter.org/sites/default/files/private/apb_222.pdf.

[30] Thomas Miller, “Ministry Denies Blocking Website,” Phnom Penh Post, February 16, 2011, http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/ministry-denies-blocking-website.

[31] Sebastian Strangio and Vong Sokheng, “NGO Site Barred by Local ISP,” Phnom Penh Post, February 9, 2009, http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/ngo-site-barred-local-isp; VOA Khmer, “Provider Denies Blocking Watchdog’s Web Site,” February 9, 2009, http://www.voacambodia.com/articleprintview/1354564.html.

[32] Cambodian Center for Human Rights, “Fundamental Freedoms Series: Internet Censorship,” factsheet, June 2011, http://www.cchrcambodia.org/admin/media/factsheet/factsheet/english/Internet_Censorship_Factsheet_Dove_en.pdf.

[33] T. Miller, “Tangled Web Revealed,” Phnom Penh Post, February 16, 2011; Voice of America, “Cambodia Blocks Anti-Government Websites,” February 16, 2011, http://bit.ly/16zRlel.

[34] Cambodian Center for Human Rights, “Findings from Round Table Discussions on Freedom of Expression,” policy brief, September 2012, http://www.cchrcambodia.org/admin/media/analysis/analysis/english/2012_09_03_Brief_Findings_from_Round_Table_Discussions_FoEx_eng.pdf.

[35] Bar Camp Phnom Pehn 2013, http://2013.barcampphnompenh.org/.

[36] Department of Media and Communication, “Empowering Cambodian Women Psychologically Through Blogging,” Cambodia Communications Review 2010, December 2010, 18.

[37] Open Institute, “IVR-based Information for the 2013 National Assembly Election Available,” March 18, 2013, http://www.open.org.kh/en/node/528.

[38] The Electoral Reform Alliance, “Joint Report,” 10.

[39] Cambodian Center for Human Rights et al, “Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review of Cambodia,” June 24, 2013, 5, http://www.cchrcambodia.org/admin/media/analysis/analysis/english/2013_08_22_Cambodia_Joint_UPR_Submission_Freedom_of_Expression_eng.pdf.

[40] Faine Greenwood, “Social Media Drives Youth Involvement in Cambodia's National Elections,” Tech President, July 31, 2013, http://techpresident.com/news/wegov/24223/rising-social-media-use-drives-youth-involvement-cambodias-national-elections.

[41] The Electoral Reform Alliance, “Joint Report,” 11.

[42] National Election Committee of Cambodia, “Statement on the Usage of Social Media” [In Khmer], May 23, 2013, http://www.necelect.org.kh/nec_khmer/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1064&Itemid=340; “NEC Says Statement on Bloggers Not Attack on Free Speech,” Cambodia Daily, May 27, 2013, http://bit.ly/15aHXsj.

[43] Cambodian Express News, “Khieu Kanharith Reminds Facebook users to be Careful Writing Misinformation and Affecting Others’ Reputations” [In Khmer], May 23, 2013, http://bit.ly/1biONCZ.

[44] Mong Palatino, “Why was Facebook Blocked in Cambodia?” Global Voices Advocacy, August 24, 2013, http://advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org/2013/08/15/why-was-facebook-blocked-in-cambodia/.

[45] Seangly and Worrell, “Facebook Safe: Government.”

[47] Free Yorm Bopha, https://freethe15.wordpress.com/; Cambodian Center for Human Rights, and World Organization Against Torture, “CCHR and OMCT Welcome Today’s Supreme Court Decision to Temporarily Release Yorm Bopha and Call Upon the Court of Appeal to Promptly Hear her Case and Clear her Name,” press release, November 22, 2013, http://cchrcambodia.org/index_old.php?url=media/media.php&p=press_detail.php&prid=446&id=5.

[48] Human Rights Watch, “Cambodia: New Penal Code Undercuts Free Speech,” press release, December 23, 2010, http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/12/22/cambodia-new-penal-code-undercuts-free-speech.

[49] Human Rights Watch, “Cambodia,” in World Report 2013: Events of 2012, (Human Rights Watch: 2013) http://www.hrw.org/world-report/2013/country-chapters%20/112370.

[50] Sean Teehan, “Cambodia Garment Worker Strike Unravels,” Al Jazeera, January 8, 2014, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2014/01/cambodia-garment-worker-strike-unravels-20141755530526443.html.

[51] Cambodian Center for Human Rights,  “Ban on Assemblies, Marches and Demonstrations in Cambodia,” case study, January 10, 2014, http://www.cchrcambodia.org/index_old.php?url=media/media.php&p=factsheet_detail.php&fsid=60&id=5.                  

[52] Human Rights Watch, “Cambodia: Withdraw Flawed Draft NGO and Association Law,” press release, April 7, 2011, http://www.hrw.org/news/2011/04/07/cambodia-withdraw-flawed-draft-ngo-and-association-law.

[53] “Draft Law on Trade Unions,” available at Sithi, accessed August 2013 http://www.sithi.org/temp.php?url=law_infrastructur.php&tab_id=&type=1≶ and “Draft Law on Non-governmental Organizations and Associations,” available at Sithi,  accessed August 2013 http://www.sithi.org/temp.php?url=law_infrastructur.php&tab_id=&type=1&lg.

[54] Cambodian Center for Human Rights, “Freedom of Expression and Association,” Fundamental Freedom Series Factsheet, January 2014, http://cchrcambodia.org/index_old.php?url=media/media.php&p=factsheet_detail.php&fsid=61&id=5

[55] Cambodian Center for Human Rights, “Human Rights Chronology,” Sithi, December 10, 2012, http://sithi.org/temp.php?url=crono_era.php&lg.

[56] Bridget Di Certo and Kim Yuthana, “The ‘Ill-Willed’ Spark Cyber Law: Officials,” Phnom Penh Post, May 24, 2012, http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/%E2%80%98ill-willed%E2%80%99-spark-cyber-law-officials; Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, “Cambodian Government​is drafting the first ever Cyber Law,” alert, May 24, 2012, http://www.cchrcambodia.org/index_old.php?url=media/media.php&p=alert_detail.php&alid=21&id=5.

[57] Faine Greenwood, “As the Internet Raises Civic Voices in Cambodia, a Struggle Brews over Net Control,” Techpresident, March 27, 2013, http://techpresident.com/news/wegov/23659/internet-civic-voices-cambodia-struggle-net-control.

[58] Cybercrime Law Formulation Working Group of Council of Ministers, “Cybercrime Law Draft V:1” http://www.article19.org/data/files/medialibrary/37516/Draft-Law-On-CyberCrime_Englishv1.pdf.

[59] Article 19, “Cambodia: Secret Draft Cybercrime Law Seeks to Undermine Free Speech Online,” press release, April 9, 2014, http://www.article19.org/resources.php/resource/37516/en/cambodia:-secret-draft-cybercrime-law-seeks-to-undermine-free-speech-online.

[60] International Federation for Human Rights, “Cambodia: Assault on Freedom of Expression Continues with Conviction of UN Staff,” December 23, 2010, http://www.fidh.org/Cambodia-Assault-on-freedom-of-expression.

[61] Cambodian Center for Human Rights, “Special Edition – Phel Phearun – Case Study,” factsheet, March 2013, http://cchrcambodia.org/index_old.php?url=media/media.php&p=factsheet_detail.php&fsid=54&id=5.

[62] Lieng Sarith, “Facebook User Busted Over Posts,” Phnom Penh Post, November 20, 2013, http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/facebook-user-busted-over-posts.

[63] Reporters Without Borders, “Heavy Damages Award Against Blogger Threatens All Netizens,” press release, July 29, 2014, http://en.rsf.org/cambodia-heavy-damages-award-against-29-07-2014,46714.html; Committee to Protect Journalists, “Harsh defamation ruling in Cambodia has broader implications,” press release, July 24, 2014, https://cpj.org/2014/07/harsh-defamation-ruling-in-cambodia-has-broader-im.php; Overseas Press Club of Cambodia, “OPCC Concerned Over Defamation Case,” press release, July 23, 2014, https://www.cpj.org/JUL%2023%20OPCC%20concerned%20over%20defamation%20case.pdf.

[64] Heng Reaksmey, “Policeman Denies Threatening Opposition Official via Facebook,” Voice of America, December 6, 2013, http://www.voacambodia.com/content/policeman-denies-threatening-opposition-official-via-facebook/1804390.html.

[65] Cambodian Center for Human Rights, “Open Letter from CCHR Expressing Grave Concern Over Discriminatory Language Reportedly Used by the CNRP,” December 12, 2013, http://cchrcambodia.org/index_old.php?url=media/media.php&p=press_detail.php&prid=455&id=5;  Cambodian Center for Human Rights, “CCHR Issues Clarification on its Open Letter to CNRP Leadership on the Subject of Discrimination,” press release, December 18, 2013, http://cchrcambodia.org/index_old.php?url=media/media.php&p=press_detail.php&prid=456&id=5.

[66] Cambodian Center for Human Rights et al, “Submission to the UN,” 6.

[68] Alex Willemyns, “Local Hacking Group Sabotages NEC Websites,” Cambodia Daily, July 9, 2013, http://www.cambodiadaily.com/archive/local-hacking-group-sabotages-websites-belonging-to-nec-34015/.

[69] Phnom Penh Post, “Protest Takes Dark Turn,” September 16, 2013, http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/protest-takes-dark-turn; Lauren Crothers and Mech Dara, “King Sihamoni and Queen Mother Donate to Sunday’s Victims,” Cambodia Daily, September 18, 2013, http://www.cambodiadaily.com/elections/king-sihamoni-and-queen-mother-donate-to-sundays-victims-42582/. Cambodia is a constitutional monarchy; King Sihamoni succeeded his father as head of state in 2004.

[70] Joshua Wilwohl, “Global Hacking Group Anonymous Warns Government in Video,” Cambodia Daily, September 17, 2013, http://www.cambodiadaily.com/elections/global-hacking-group-anonymous-warns-government-in%E2%80%88video-42544/.

[71] Kuch Naren and Joshua Wilwohl, “Two Members of Hacking Group Anonymous Arrested,” Cambodia Daily, May 3, 2014, http://www.cambodiadaily.com/news/two-members-of-hacking-group-anonymous-arrested-58000/.