Cambodia moves to establish National Internet Gateway

18 Feb 2021

Cambodia has approved the establishment of a National Internet Gateway (NIG) through which all of the country’s domestic and international internet traffic will be routed and managed. Phnom Penh Post reports that a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on 16 February claims that the gateway will facilitate and manage internet traffic, ensure effective and efficient national revenue collection, protect national security and ensure social order. The NIG will incorporate and manage the Domestic Internet Exchange (DIX) and the International Internet Gateway (IIG), to be located in Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Poipet, Bavet and other locations based on demand and as approved by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications Cambodia (MPTC).

Parties interested in operating the NIG have been invited to apply for a licence from the Telecommunication Regulator of Cambodia (TRC). The appointed operator would be required to ‘manage and facilitate connections and the use of infrastructure, network and internet services at all instances of the NIG, as well as terrestrial cross-border network infrastructure. It will have to install and configure the routers, switches and other network equipment to ensure the quality and security of network connections or peering facilities for NIG and operators of [other] international gateways.’ It must also cooperate with the MPTC, TRC and other relevant authorities and ‘take immediate action to block or disconnect any network connection that affects national revenue, security, social order, et cetera’.

In July 2020 the government proposed the establishment of a NIG to facilitate and manage domestic and international internet connections. The plans were criticised by the Asia Internet Coalition (AIC), which stated that the move poses serious risks to businesses and internet platforms. It added that it would undermine citizens’ rights to internet access, raising grave concerns about freedom of expression, media censorship, user privacy, deteriorating internet speed and increasing cybersecurity risks.