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The Anakut podcast: Cambodia’s controversial internet gateway

Proposals for an internet gateway in Cambodia have inevitably drawn comparisons to China's Great Firewall. In this episode of Anakut, we speak with digital security expert Moses Ngeth and James Griffiths, author of The Great Firewall of China, to hear what this plan could mean in practice

Written By:
July 14, 2021
The Anakut podcast: Cambodia’s controversial internet gateway

Hello and welcome back to Anakut!

You might have to think twice about your answer after listening to this latest episode, in which Thina and I venture beyond the digital horizon to a world of state surveillance and cybersecurity.

Our subject for this installment is the National Internet Gateway. No, that’s not another Phnom Penh monument, but rather a Cambodian project now seemingly in the works after Prime Minister Hun Sen made headlines in February by signing an official sub-decree calling for a major rerouting of the country’s internet traffic. The gateway scheme would effectively run all incoming connections to the internet through a single point overseen by the government, a move that would require both an infrastructural overhaul as well as a highly technical team of minders.

The news of the gateway sub-decree, which came with a completion timeline of one year from signing, was quickly met with public anxiety over what many saw as tightening state control over the means of expression. Some observers at the time likened the development as a step toward a restricted version of the internet as maintained by the Chinese government.

The gateway scheme would effectively run all incoming connections to the internet through a single point overseen by the government

Amidst all the speculation, we were left wondering what all of this actually means for internet users in the Kingdom. So this week, we got two fully wired guests to explain it to us. In this episode, you’ll meet Moses Ngeth, a tech commentator, blogger and digital security consultant for civil society organisations. We also had on James Griffiths, the Asia correspondent for the Globe and Mail newspaper and author of The Great Firewall of China, a book that gives us a view of what the internet can look like under firm state control.

This is likely one of our most informative episodes to date. We start with the origins of the gateway sub-decree before moving into the concrete details that Moses has dug up as to what technical aspects this rerouting will include. From there, we move into the comparisons between Cambodia’s emerging internet scheme to the increasingly sophisticated measures the Chinese state has developed since first taking hold of the internet in the 1990s. 

Finally, we talk about the digital culture that could form in this new, more highly monitored digital ecosystem before sharing some tips from the experts on how users can protect themselves online.

I personally found this episode very interesting to record, so I hope you’ll give it a listen. Scroll back up to the top and hit play to catch a glimpse of what life might be on the other side of the gateway.

All episodes of the podcast can be found on our Anakut webpageAmazon, AppleGoogle and Spotify. 

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