Week 1: Gathering Data

My duties this summer will primarily concern the Cambodia ICT Camp 2022. This is a series of workshops on open data, digital security, and journalism, serving an audience composed of members of the media and journalists, civil society organisations, professors and students. It will take place from June 23rd to June 25th, in Siem Reap province--just outside of the Angkor Wat temple complex. The last edition of the camp was in 2018.


In preparation for the camp, I will conduct a literature review on three topics: cyber norms in the ASEAN and Cambodia, data privacy, and digital human rights. I will also prepare a survey to go out to participants before the camp begins, assessing their thoughts and concerns on these topics. During the camp, I will assist in presentations and interviews, so this information-gathering will help tailor the Camp participants' experience to their needs.

A note on life in Phnom Penh: The city appears to be heavily dependent on apps. Take-out, rides, cell service subscriptions, finance--a young person will tell you, 'oh, you'll need an app for that.' While these exist in the U.S., they do not have the sort of universal coverage they do here. And indeed, one restaurant I visited accepted neither cash nor credit card; only payment via a qr code scanned into an app. 

I began my week with a review of primary sources of Cambodian cyber and data law. The first laws were passed in 2015, essentially awarding the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications jurisdiction over most issues of the internet; this was expanded in 2018; 2020 and 2021 saw further laws. However, these laws do not address cybersecurity or data privacy, both of which topics are subjects of ongoing draft legislation. In a word, Cambodia is in the process of modernizing its internet policy.

I next began to gather commentary and analysis on both Cambodia's developing cyber law situation, as well as on human rights in Cambodia as they pertain to the internet and journalism. Cambodia is currently an UNCTAD-designated least-developed-country, and follows the familiar pattern of heavy investment by Chinese, European, and American corporations and state interests. Though the dollar functions as a secondary currency here--for large transactions, the primary currency--China invests heavily in real estate and agriculture, and prominent telecommunication and finance corporations come from other ASEAN members or the EU. These competing economic interests also compete in their visions of cyber law and human rights law, and this means analysis by Western-oriented organizations must be carefully checked by analysis and developments from more local sources.

I concluded my week with the first draft of a survey. The survey will require both time to design by IT, as well as a response period by applicants. This is the most time-sensitive task, and therefore will have to be developed only while I am continuing to research and learn about Cambodian law. Having familiarized myself with the contours of the legal questions this week, my goal for next week is to revise and produce a final draft of the survey.


There are many motorbikes and cats in this city. I prefer cats to motorbikes, so I was happy to discover a regular nighttime visitor: