As of today, blogspot sites in Cambodia have been blocked following an order from the Ministry of Interior to all Cambodia's internet service providers. The block has been confirmed by ISPs such as Cellcard, Metfone, and EZECOM.
The crackdown is apparently a government reaction to the KI media post in December which described key government officials as ‘traitors.’ KI Media is a prominent online media blog which is critical to the government.
This incident also led to the arrest of World Food Program staffer Seng Kunnaka who was sentenced to six months in jail for distributing copies of the controversial image from KI Media. While many share the idea that KI Media crossed the line of freedom of expression, the arrest of the WFP staff is seen as unjustified and it signaled the crackdown on freedom of expression and access to information.
As soon as the blogspot sites have been blocked, online reactions were sent through Twitter and Facebook:
ChrisInCambo (Chris Brown) tweet:
Blogger.com has been blocked by all ISP's in Cambodia. Looking forward to hearing the reasoning behind it in tomorrows papers.
john_weeks (John Weeks) tweeted back:
@ChrisInCambo Current reports from IT community indicate Blogger ban ONLY enacted by ISPs EZEcom / Metfone. Time 2 use new ISP?
@john_weeks Blaming the ISP is like shooting the messenger. I'm sure they've not done it without being ordered to do so.
Ninaism (Nina Lamparski) tweet:
In her article concerning the Blog Control 2.0, Nina wrote:
“Cambodia has so far remained relatively free of online censorship but the days of e-freedom could soon be over”
Though questions have arisen on the reasons behind such systematic crackdown on blogsites, these discussant tweeters may have already known the real reason for the order. John Weeks reacts to the blocking of KI Media:
@ChrisInCambo Not a big fan of KI-Media.But singling them out will only increase attention to their site as it did for Reahu.net.
Here are some reactions on facebook:
Cambodian Center for Human Rights, quotes a news report from the Cambodian Express News (CEN:
CEN: Ministry of Interior has ordered all internet service providers to block access to all websites with blogspot domains in an attempt to stop KI Media. Access from a few ISPs is not possible today while at least one is accessible.
Another facebook user, Cheng Samnang, wrote:
What will happen when government block all blogspot websites?! What I am going to do with my blogspot? Ops, forget that I still can access it outside Cambodia but my friends in Cambodia cannot access my blog anymore. Come on, man!!
Another facebook user stated:
“before another jasmine revolution? lucky stil have fb & twitter”
This may be too early to see what is next to happen after blogspot sites have been blocked since the decision may change as the case of the government plan earlier to have a state-run exchange point to control all local internet service providers in order to strengthen internet security against pornography, theft and cyber crime. The plan has been so far postponed due to popular opposition even inside the government.
Update: KI Media reported that their site has been unblocked already. The government also denied that it planned to censor KI Media.