The national telecommunications regulator has told Cambodian telecoms operators that they must register all SIM card users by Sunday.
The ultimatum comes ahead of next month’s general election and comes after the government issued new rules that could see authorities step up the monitoring of social media and other online communications.
The Telecommunication Regulator of Cambodia (TRC) also told Cambodians to be wary of posting messages online or via text messages that “aim to cause chaos and devastate national defense sectors, national security, good relation with other countries, economy, public order, and discrimination of culture and national tradition”.
Heang Boran, director of the TRC, declined to comment on the statement.
Im Vutha, a TRC spokesman, said the move was intended to help the police identify criminals.
Civil society groups have called on the government to abandon the new communications monitoring rules, which they see as draconian.
Ngeth Mose, director of NGO Central’s media department, said ending the use of unregistered SIM cards was a welcome move, but was also a concern as it was unclear how the government would use the data held on citizens.
“For instance, the definition of national security is broad. What is national security? How is it harmed?” he asked.
Representatives of major mobile phone operators covered by the order could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.