The Cambodian government seems to have had enough of false information on the internet. It is drafting a law that will make it illegal to lie on the internet. The Phnom Penh Post reports that the “cyber law” will “prevent “ill-willed groups or individuals’ from spreading false information” (Story here). Much of the details about the law are still unclear.
Does a writer need to know the information is false? Does he have to intend to cause harm through the false information? Also, the consequences of a violation are unknown- are we talking fines or jail time? It’s curious that the Cambodian government would be considering such a law now since neighboring Thailand has had problems with speech issues recently with the “Uncle SMS” scandal. (Story here). There, a man was not fined, but put in jail for allegedly sending an insulting text message about the Thai king. The man claimed he didn’t even know how to text, and has since died in prison.
False speech is a problem that every government will need to address at some point or another. Just recently, the United States Supreme Court heard a case about a man who was fined for lying about receiving the Medal of Honor, the country’s highest military medal, when he had never even been in the military. (story here). The court needs to decide whether the Constitution allows for such blatant lies. Apparently, no one in the room even believed the man.
It will be interesting to see how the Cambodian government deals with this difficult issue. We will just have to wait to see what this cyber-law actually looks like.