When I tried again to access some websites with my Internet connection at Online this morning, I got this response on my screen:
The connection to the server was reset while the page was loading.
Who is doing this? It does not only happen to me – and I was told it happens at least on one more Internet connection: Metfone. I cannot verify this information myself. And I do not know if Internet access is hindered also on other systems.
But I had the Online connection checked now again: On the connection to another Cambodian ISP – Cellcard – there is no restriction.
I share this situation, because what happens is a breakdown of law – of blatant actions against government policy which has been stated by two Ministers of the Royal Government of Cambodia.
The people who limit free Internet access are
- acting against fundamental rights: the access to information,
- they do things for which there is no legal basis,
- they make some ISPs supply deficient services to customers who have paid for full services.
Two Ministers of the Royal Government of Cambodia have spoken about government policy and common sense:
The Minister of Post and Telecommunication, H. E. So Khun, was quoted to have said in March:
“We don’t have any policy to shut down, to close the sites,” he said. “Sometimes … there is a problem with the ISP.”
But a member of the staff of this Ministry had written to ten Internet service providers, using the name of the Ministry, urging them block the access to certain places on the Internet.
The Minister of Information, H. E. Khieu Kanharith, was quoted in The Cambodia Daily to have said on 3 May 2011:
“The right to access to information is the key to good governance.” In his speech on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day on 3 May 2011 he referred also to the on-going blocking of some websites by some, not all, Internet Service Providers. “We don’t have any intention to block any websites, any, even a website where they put an obscene photo of the King – we never block,” he was quoted from an interview after his address to the meeting. “Shutting a communication system isn’t beneficial to the state,” he added. “The government does not have a policy to block this website. Even I myself need to access and read this website too.”
But my own access to some sites is still blocked on my Online Internet access line. However, the Cellcard Broadband service is not restricted. There may be also others like that – I appreciate to get information which ISPs provide normal services, and which ISPs withhold the full Internet access contracted.
When I inquired with Online by phone, I was told: “We know there are problems, but we do not block!” So I wrote to Online:
“Since several days, we experience that several web sites are not accessible… I am informed that the same sites which we cannot access with the Online connection are available through other ISPs in Cambodia.
As this situation continues now already for several days and you are aware of it, it is surprising that you did not rectify this irregularity.
Would you please inform us about your response to us, your paying customers, who suffer from problems at your company, with interventions that do not affect other ISPs in the country. Will you offer a financial compensation for service not delivered for the period of time of this blocking? When will you reestablish to deliver the proper service for which we are paying?”
More than one week later, and after a reminder was sent, the administration of Online did not care to respond. I am now considering to change to another ISP, one that provides the legally contracted services.
On 6 March 2011 I had written:
Ms. Sok Channda, the CEO of Cambodia Data Communications, maintaining MekongNet and AngkorNet, said she had received the email, but no official letter from the government. “We work on letters, not email. If the government orders, they send us a letter. We do business under the government and the government allows us the license… We must follow but we cannot follow just email or phone call.”
This raises, of course, the question, why the leadership of other ISPs did not take the same stand, based on a clear application of principles of public administration.
It raises a similar question: Why do consumers maintain contracts with companies that do not deliver what they promised? It is, of course, understandable that there can be temporary unforeseen technical problems, where we as consumers have to wait until the problems are fixed in a timely manner. But when access is blocked for a long period of time by some ISPs and not by others, it is obviously not a technical computer or network problem.
Fortunately, consumers can make choices, by selecting ISPs that deliver reliable services within the framework of government policy and the law.