PHNOM PENH —
The Cambodian Center for Independent Media has set up a website for public comment on a contentious draft law to regulate Cambodian cyberspace.
The website establishes a “wiki”-like crowd-sourcing platform for comments on the law, even though the public has not been able to see the draft.
Critics fear the draft law is aimed at curbing freedom of expression online, as popularity of social media and mobile devices has spiked in recent years.
“We set it up as a way for the public to show t+heir comments on the ‘cybercrime law,’” Pa Ngoun Teang, executive director for the center, said. Ideally, people will be able to express their concerns about the law, or even edit its content online, he said.
The website, www.netlawkh.org, which has been up since February, has support from Freedom House, a US-based group that monitors and rates countries on their freedom of expression.
So far, users have posted suggestions on the law and have called for a copy to be posted online. Some have said this could be Cambodia’s first crowd-sourced law.
Chhiv Pidor, head of human resources for a private company in Phnom Penh, said she uses the Internet “almost 24 hours a day,” including Facebook, where she connects with people from her company, with friends and with family. She worries the law could curtail her online activities, potentially hurting her business or invading her privacy.
She understands the need for national security—one pretext of the law—but it must be done without curbing freedoms, she said. “Personally, it is freedom of expression, and it should not be shut down,” she said.
Information on netlawkh.org should be widely shared, she said, so people can understand the law well and comment on it.
Huong Thi, a student, said he is very much interested in how the law is written, and he wants his friends to know about the website. He and his friends use the Internet to communicate with each other and to do research, he said.
Srey Vat, another student, said he wants to see the content of the draft law. After seeing the comments website recently, he said he’d like many more people to know about it. “It should be shared on social media, like Facebook,” he said.
Pa Ngoun Teang, said he will promote the website through radio programming and social media, in hopes it will allow more people to be involved in the drafting of the law.