Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association

Cambodians’ Digital Security a Growing Concern, Experts Say

Chy Sophat gives a talk on digital security at the Cambodia ICT Camp in Siem Reap. Pictures: Open Development Cambodia(ODC)
Chy Sophat gives a talk on digital security at the Cambodia ICT Camp in Siem Reap. Pictures: Open Development Cambodia(ODC)

Experts are concerned that while more and more Cambodians have access to the internet their knowledge of how to protect themselves from cybercrime is still in its infancy.

‘’Based on what I have seen, most Cambodians are not familiar with or know much about digital security. If compared to other countries in the region, Cambodians, mostly young people, were only  just introduced to cyberspace,” Chy Sophat, an organizer at Barcamp Cambodia and also a content creator with the focus on technology and digital security, a loose international network focused on technology and the web, told CamboJA.

‘’To deal with this issue, I think people should start learning digital literacy including how to use digital tools correctly and the digital security which helps them to use them safely,” he added.

If people don’t take any precautions, he said, their personal information could be leaked and they could find themselves victims of online scams.

‘’People need to know what information they can show online and what should be hidden… identification, email, password, and so on,” he said.

Chea Vandeth, Minister of Post and Telecommunication, also thinks this is a problem, saying only 30 percent of Cambodians have basic knowledge of digital literacy and know how to use digital platforms and the internet to search for and share information.

A cybercrime law has been in draft form since 2013, but has not yet passed, due to debate over its wording. Among other things it would aid with the prosecution of crimes carried out online.

Khuon Sokpiseth, deputy director of the Ministry of Interior’s Anti-Cybercrime Department, recently told a forum convened to discuss the law, that it so far focuses primarily on child exploitation, online fraud, and cybercrime.

‘’The cybercrime law is still under review and needs to be adjusted accordingly. Technical wording is the main factor that makes it hard to finalize – it is complicated,” he said.

NGOs have raised concerns that the law could affect freedom of expression online and users’ privacy, but Mr. Sokpiseth denied that was the case.

‘’None of the sections were established to sentence those who express their opinion online,” he said.

Nop Vy, the executive director of CamboJA, said civil society organizations have urged the Cambodian government to work with them to ensure that they receive enough input from different parties before finalizing the drafting law.

They’ve also called for the government to review some of the existing laws including the Telecom law and the National Internet Gateway (NIG) which were passed without any consultation.

‘’People should be concerned about their digital security because it affects their rights and freedom of expression,” he said.