Who is blocking Internet access, acting against government policy?

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.

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8 Comments

  1. c0d3r says:

    What site is blocked? Is it blocked consistently day after day? Or only temporarily? “Connection reset” errors could be caused by virus scanners, improper network settings, overloaded servers, corrupt browser settings and/or a whole raft of other things, up to and including gov’t censorship.

    • nhklein says:

      As I had written in my text, the blocking is not temporary. And as only SOME sites are blocked on SOME ISPs, and the same sites are accessible on others consistently, as I had written, all your assumptions – “virus scanners…” etc. do not apply. You mention also “government censorship” – but how can this happen, when the Minister of Post and Telecommunication, and the Minister of Information, say that there is no government policy of blocking. That is why I asked who is doing this AGAINST stated government policy.

    • nhklein says:

      Oh I forgot to answer your question:

      http://khmerization.blogspot.com/
      http://ki-media.blogspot.com/
      http://sacrava.blogspot.com/

      The access to these is blocked. I am raising my questions because of the principle of blocking and stated Cambodian government policy – I am not discussing content.

  2. Norbert Klein says:

    Dear c0d3r (sorry, I do not know anybody with this name),

    as I had written in detail: yes, it is consistent blocking of some sites, already continuing for weeks. It is not caused by a virus – I can access other sites on the same ISP’s service, and other ISPs in Phnom Penh do not block the same sites. So all the technical reasons you mention are not applicable – and government censorship? I don’t think this is government censorship, as two Ministers of Government have denied this – but my mail to the ISP blocking the service for which I pay them does not even care to respond to written questions after more than two weeks…
     

  3. Hans says:

    Metfone also is blocked on some Google operated servers such as blogspot.com and friendconnect (may be others as well).
    Every site OWNER/server admin has a right to protect his site/server from abuse when a particular IP range is origin of cybercrime such as hacker activities or DDoS. There are networks in some countries, specially mobile networks that are extensively used/abused for such activities. Hence the only means to peacefully reopen such sites is to spread more readiness to be honest and loving in all activities in your own neighborhood.
    Hence if you or anyone else gets either a time out or blank page or similar error when loading a page from a particular site, it most likely is NO censorship, but mere self-protection from an (previously) abused site/server owner.
    We have a right to free Internet access and we also have a right to be treated with dignity as site owners or publishers = to publish and practice freedom of press without being abused by hackers or abusive Internet users.
    Every coin always has two sides
    As a site-/server owner I also do block access for those abusive networks or ISP or entire IP ranges once abusive traffic is logged. In January this year along from a very few participating sources I had MORE than 1 Terabyte abusive DDoS traffic. surely enough to make use of protecting “iptables”.
    To have free access to all sites, I simply use 2 or 3 different SIM (Mfone, Metfone, qb) in addition to local WIFI. then all sites accessible = which proves beyond doubt that it is NO censorship at all but onyl site protection.

    • Norbert Klein says:

      “Every
      site OWNER/server admin has a right to protect his site/server from
      abuse when a particular IP range is origin of cybercrime such as hacker
      activities or DDoS.” This is NOT what I am discussing. Does this right also include the right of the ISP not to respond to two polite letters, after about one months, and after about three weeks? And after I visited the ISP I got a verbal apology and the promise – about two weeks ago – that I would get a response quickly. I am still waiting.If an ISP is disregarding the most simple rule of dealing with customer’s mail – to respond – and several other ISPs do not block or “protect” themselves, why should people stay with such unresponsive service providers?I think you did not read the whole context which I tried to describe clearly. I am happy to look forward to further correspondence based on these facts, and not on supposedly existing rights of providers NOT to provide – without any information why – services for which the consumers pay.

      • Hans says:

        when an ISP’s network has been used/abused for cybercrime and ISP gets a formal complaint from attacked site owner,
        then as well it is an ISPs duty to block-protect a site

        a quality ISP has monitoring systems that auto block in case of abuse
        so do server owners usually have auto-protection systems implemented

        myself I have millions if individual IPs blocked in groups or blocks to protect my site
        such blocks include mostly mobile ISP as typically only mobile users may bypass criminal prosecution in case of hacker activities originating in low tech  third world countries

        hackers by default use those ISP that have easiest methods to get SIM and fastest networks for efficient DDoS

        slow ISP such as Mfone have no serious problems with hackers for the very simple reason that they are by far too slow for any real use by hackers or professionals

        those ISP who insist in passport to give SIM also may have LESS problems.
        while in KH it is a legal requirement to have correct visa and passport when getting a SIM, there are KH mobile provider bypassing that law and thus opening doors for cybercrime

        professional ISP AND professional server admin typically are connected to automated  www alarm systems to instantly protect their network members or servers as soon as somewhere in the world there has been ONE case of abuse reported from a particular ISP / host or IP (-.range) the minimum blocked usually is a C-net, but that is up the each one implementing protection.

        in MOST cases where a site is blocked it always is the site/server OWNER to do so.
        ISP only block if they have efficient monitoring system and are most sincerely interested in keeping their own network clean and legal. In Germany and a few other central European countries ISPs have a whole bunch of duties to filter and protect their networks!

        when using mobile ISP you are receiving dynamic IP and thus may have today an IP that might have been abused hours or days ago by someone else

        currently the most criminal ISP in the world is Italy
        see the global top 10 criminal ISP:

        http://www.spamhaus.org/statistics/networks.lasso

        but there are many here in SE asia or course and also in DE/USA

        to respond to a letter from you
        an ISP needs to have an EXPERT knowing exact cause of problem and how to solve.
        you may safely assume there is NO single expert in KH proficient enough to KNOW such high end stuff and know iptables and why sites use them for site or server protection.

        those few true experts here in Cambodia most likely have a much better job and revenue when working self employed or freelance than they would ever have as employee of any KH ISP!

        years ago in the Philippine islands – on Boracay island – the local ISP (the largest PH iSP) had most of US based 1and1.com servers blocked – by means of missing DNS for 1and1.

        sometimes SERVERS are origin of hacker activities against ISP or ISP owned IPs

        Cambodians are polite and if they have no idea what you complain about then the first thing they do is to apologize
        that keeps YOU quiet and polite for a while

        now they most likely dont know what to do – just as much as you

        access to a server is NO right for ISP it is a privilege given by server owner based on honest use strictly
        and any server owner or hosting company has the right to block access for any security reasons
        Millions of IPs are blocked across the globe for various reasons – the sun still shines and people still breath. there are more important things than INTERNET and those who make a living are sufficiently creative to simple create their own solution of love to keep doing their work online.

        from all global ISP and countries only about 40 countries have censorship
        for example a site based on a US based server may receive some 30% LESS global traffic as a result of such official censorship by governments like china, various arab countries and others blocking most or all sites hosted in USA for known reasons.

        why complain if solution is existing
        as a professional web publisher working part time in KH I simply use multiple ISP and all is perfect without complaints

        my ISP Metfone is blocked in several sites such as Google owned blogspot.com and friendconnect and other Google services OUTSIDE G search
        that is beyond my ISPs control
        hence no reason why I should complain to my ISP if I know the reason and solution.

        I chose Mfone first (now only for calls and sms)
        and changed to Metfone for www (and use qb and wifi)
        there was no result in complaining about poor Mfone www service
        they simply lack professional staff who knows what to do and how to improve quality

        that lack of professionals is nothing else but the result of khmer rouge killing all educated ppl – such as my entire earlier Cambodian family – now what we have left is the karma of all past action. when we have a few million uneducated ppl who survived all atrocities and now they try doing their best in “educating” the young generation, there is nothing better to expect. how can surviving uneducated ppl teach high tech ?

        In KH nobody from native ppl really complain, all are just happy to be alive.
        may be you should consider history of KH during the past 50+yrs a little more and deeper. from all the current problems Internet is the least important problem in all KH.

        I would assume that you are long enough here to have a deeper understanding of the holistic situation in Cambodia
        it is impossible to have millions of knowledgeable experienced professionals if there is NO ONE to look UP TO as a living professional or human example
        all potential living examples have been killed

        God bless

        hans

        • Anonymous says:

          Mr. Hans,

          it is surprising that you do not respond to the point raised – but spread out your wrong assumptions and claim that you have far superior technical knowledge on Internet networking than any of the many qualified Cambodian networking technicians.

          But you just do not read.

          I raised the question that a big ISP in Phnom Penh did not respond to repeated mails and a visit to the office – I am waiting since a month.

          This bad business behavior has nothing to do with the long stories you write.

          And you say that I did not get a response for the following reason:

          “Cambodians are polite and if they have no idea what you complain about then the first thing they do is to apologize that keeps YOU quiet and polite for a while now they most likely dont know what to do – just as much as you”

          Please don’t look down on Cambodian people in general by your generalizations. And in addition, you are again wrong: My mail was addressed to a foreigner in the ISP under discussion – it is a foreigner who did not respond.

          In case you write again, stay on the point and not on your phantasies.

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