Thursday, 17 February 2011 19:51 Thomas Miller
The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications should clarify its request that 10 internet service providers block access to several anti-government websites, because the government has no such policy, Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith said today.
Khieu Kanharith said he had not been aware of the request – an email sent to 10 ISPs from an official at MPTC, obtained by The Post – but that it did not represent government policy.
“An email is not an official letter,” he said, adding that he could still access KI-Media, which he views “every two or three hours”.
“It surprised me that some ISP organisers accepted the email as an official letter,” Khieu Kanharith said.
Sieng Sithy, deputy director of the Directorate of Telecommunications Policy Regulation at the MPTC, wrote an email to Ezecom, Metfone, Citylink, Digi, AngkorNet, WiCam, TC, Camnet, Online and Camintel thanking them for “cooperation” in blocking access to several websites, including KI-Media, Khmerization and a site featuring the art of political cartoonist Sacrava.
Sieng Sithy referenced a meeting on February 10 with Minister of Posts and Telecommunications So Khun, during which So Khun asked for “cooperation” in curbing access to several unnamed sites that affect “Khmer morality and tradition and the government”, according to official minutes obtained by The Post.
Khieu Kanharith said MPTC should clarify the issue.
“If So Khun signed, then it is the position of the Ministry of Posts, but not the government, because the Ministry of Information … we have not asked any ISPs to block any website,” he said.
Khieu Kanharith said MPTC should “at least give the reason why they asked or ordered the ISPs to block [the sites]”.
So Khun stated on Wednesday that MPTC had no policy of blocking access to the websites, but could not be reached for comment today.
Internet users have reported in the past several days that they could not access KI-Media through ISPs Ezecom, Metfone, Online and WiCam.
On Monday, WiCam users attempting to access KI-Media said they saw an error message, signed by “WiCam Tech Support”, saying the site had been “blocked as ordered” by MPTC.
Kim Saroeun, operations manager for Online, said today his company was not blocking the sites in question.
“There is no order from my top management to block access to any websites you mentioned below. [W]e will continue to investigate and if there is anything [that] come[s] up [I] will gladly let you know,” he said by email.
Ezecom CEO Paul Blanche-Horgan has said he has received “no directive from the government to do anything” and that it was merely a “technical problem”.
Sok Channda, CEO of Cambodia Data Communications, which operates MekongNet and AngkorNet, said on Wednesday she had received the email but did not block any sites because it was not an official letter.
Users of MekongNet have confirmed they could access the sites in question.