Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - US to help develop Kingdom's cybercrime law

US to help develop Kingdom's cybercrime law

A screenshot of Prime Minister Hun Sen's official website after it was defaced by a hacker yesterday. Photo supplied
A screenshot of Prime Minister Hun Sen's official website after it was defaced by a hacker yesterday. Photo supplied

US to help develop Kingdom's cybercrime law

As a hacker yet again defaced the personal website of Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday, a Justice Ministry spokesman announced that the US would help the Kingdom develop its controversial draft cybercrime bill, which observers have long feared will be used to crack down on government critics.

Following a meeting between US Ambassador William Heidt and Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana yesterday morning, Justice Ministry spokesman Chin Malin said the US had volunteered to help “guarantee that the preparation of this law is not going to restrict freedom of expression”.

“In July a working group from the Ministry of Justice and relevant working groups from the telecom and interior ministries will visit Washington in order to study, learn and exchange experience with the US in drafting and implementing a cybercrime law,” Malin said, adding that the bill was “moving forward”.

Long in the works, the cybercrime bill was shelved in 2014 following a public backlash to clauses that criminalised content that “slanders or undermines” the government or public officials, or affects “political cohesiveness”.

A second draft obtained by the Post last December appeared to have dropped the controversial clauses, though fears of the legislation’s potential misuse have remained, given several recent cases of authorities targeting people over comments made on social media.

Yesterday, US embassy spokesman Jay Raman declined to discuss the cybercrime bill cooperation. Raman said in an email Heidt’s visit to the Justice Minister was a courtesy call that covered a broad range of issues including “cooperation in the fight against trafficking in persons, rule of law, and the current political situation”.

As more citizens go online, the internet has become an increasingly important political battleground in Cambodia.

In a bid to win over younger voters, Hun Sen has ramped up his online presence, though the premier has proved sensitive to online attacks.

In yet another such case, a hacker, identifying as part of the global “hacktivist” group Anonymous, yesterday defaced the premier’s website a second time, plastering it with photos of violence by Cambodian security forces against citizens. The hacker, who warned the premier in May that more attacks would follow if he did not “stop hurting people”, yesterday vowed his campaign would continue.

“This is the second blow or slap because Samdech continues to cause problems in the past few days,” read text posted on the website, which was shut down following the attack. “Stop hurting other people; if not, you will get a third blow.”

Following the initial hack, the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications said it was waiting for data from the page’s administrators to trace the hacker’s origin. Yesterday, however, ministry spokesman Khov Makara referred questions to the Interior Ministry, whose representatives could not be reached.

Additional reporting by Shaun Turton

MOST VIEWED

  • Historic Battambang town bans billboards

    The Battambang town administration informed all house and business owners in Svay Por commune to remove all billboards by August 1 as it is preparing to submit the town to UNESCO for inclusion on its historical cultural heritage list. Its July 25 notice said all signage was

  • All foreigners' accommodations to be inspected: Sar Kheng

    The Ministry of Interior is undertaking a serious effort to inspect all the accommodations of foreigners in Cambodia – except diplomats – in order to find and identify human traffickers. Minister Sar Kheng said this would include inspections on the homes of foreigners employed by businesses, private

  • Ice cream, noodles flagged over carcinogen

    The General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE) has identified three types of instant noodles and ice cream trademarks originating from Thailand, Vietnam and France that are suspected to contain ethylene oxide, which poses a cancer risk to consumers. The general department has

  • Exclusive interview with Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative of the EU

    CAMBODIA is hosting the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and Related Meetings this week with top officials from the US, China, and Russia and other countries in the region slated to attend and to meet with face-to-face with their counterparts on the sidelines. In

  • Khmer influence growing in Hollywood

    The rare success of The Cleaning Lady – an American TV series which stars Cambodian-French Hollywood actress Elodie Yung – sheds some light on Asian immigrants to the US, yet a significant representation gap of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) exists both on screen and behind

  • Rise in Thai air routes to Siem Reap fuels travel hopes

    Local tourism industry players are eager for regional airline Bangkok Airways Pcl’s resumption of direct flight services between the Thai capital and Siem Reap town on August 1 – home of Cambodia’s awe-inspiring Angkor Archaeological Park – which is expected to boost the growth rate of