Cambodia’s Cybercrime Law Remains Under Review

Technical details are stalling the ratification of Cambodia’s cybercrime law, officials claim as civil society organizations urge the ministry to consult them on the draft.
A panel discussion on the progress of the Cybercrime Draft Law at Cambodia ICT Camp in Siem Reap. Kiripost/via ODC
A panel discussion on the progress of the Cybercrime Draft Law at Cambodia ICT Camp in Siem Reap. Kiripost/via ODC

SIEM REAP, Digital security has become a major concern during the age of rapid digital development as an increasing number of people live their lives online. In spite of this, Cambodia’s cybercrime law has remained under review since 2013, stalled by technical wording, according to an official.

During a five-day session held by Open Development Cambodia (ODC) in Siem Reap province, key sectors from the Anti Cybercrime Department of the Ministry of Interior, the representative from journalist association CamboJA, and the Cambodia Center for Independent Media (CCIM) opened a discussion on the draft cybercrime law and its latest developments.

During the discussion, Khuon Sokpiseth, deputy director of the Anti-Cybercrime Department at the Ministry of Interior, said the cybercrime draft law has yet to be finalized due to issues with the technical wording. As of now, he said, the draft law has 55 articles and nine chapters that mainly focus on cybercrime, online scams, and child abuse exploitation.

‘’The ministry works with other partners, including the private sector and Ministry of Justice, to develop this legal framework. However, I am not sure whether it will be open to the public and civil societies to have an opinion on this draft law. It is the government’s decision to choose who can work on it,” he said.

The cybercrime law aims to ensure online safety and prevent any legitimate interest in utilizing and developing technology. In addition, it will ensure the application of legislation, anti-cybercrime, and battling offenses committed by computer systems. According to Sokpiseth, this law follows the model of what has been implemented in the United States.

Chan Sokunthea, executive director of CCIM, said civil societies frequently express concerns about the draft law and seek to provide input in its development. However, she said, to date they have not been allowed to work with the ministry’s legal committee.

‘’Recently, the digital rights working groups has requested the Ministry of Interior to review the late version of this draft law to see how it can affect online users’ security and freedom of expression. But, so far, we have not received any information about it. We are happy to give input if we get the permission from the ministry” she said.

Nop Vy, executive director of CamboJA, echoed Sokunthea’s views regarding the above-mentioned issue.

‘’Actually, civil societies have never been involved with the Ministry of Interior to develop the Cybercrime law. If we are allowed, I think we potentially can make this law more efficient and transparent,” he said.