Cambodia blocked independent media websites ahead of 2023 general elections


July 17, 2023 - ongoing
The Cambodia Daily
Cambodia News
Deum Tnot News
published by Maria Xynou, Elizaveta Yachmeneva on November 30, 2023

In the days leading up to Cambodia’s 2023 general elections, OONI data shows stronger signs of news media blocking in Cambodia. From 17th July 2023 onwards, we start to observe a more persistent spike in anomalous measurements in the testing of The Cambodia Daily, Radio Free Asia (RFA), Kamnotra, Cambodia News, and Deum Tnot News. The timing of the anomalies correlates with the timing when the Telecommunications Regulator of Cambodia reportedly ordered local ISPs to block access to the websites and social media accounts of The Cambodia Daily, Radio Free Asia (RFA) and Kamnotra (among a total of nine domains).

The following chart aggregates OONI measurement coverage from the testing of,,,,, and in Cambodia between 1st January 2023 to 30th November 2023.


Chart: OONI Probe testing of,,,, and in Cambodia between 1st January 2023 to 30th November 2023 (source: OONI MAT).

Starting from around 17th July 2023 (6 days before Cambodia’s 2023 general elections), we observe a spike in anomalies (for most tested websites) which persisted to date. While most of the websites through the above chart (excluding, which was only really tested from 16th July 2023 onwards) presented some anomalies in previous months, the majority of those measurements showed that those sites were previously accessible on most tested networks in Cambodia. This changed in mid-July 2023, when the vast majority of measurements for these sites started presenting persistent signs of blocking. The testing of Deum Tnot News, however, suggests that the block started earlier, as we observe a more persistent spike in anomalies from 5th June 2023 onwards.

In terms of how the blocks were implemented, OONI data shows that different ISPs in Cambodia used different censorship techniques. Many measurements show DNS tampering, such as cases where the private IP or an NXDOMAIN error is returned as part of DNS resolution. In other cases, we observe IP blocking and TLS interference (as connections are reset during the TLS handshake). The variety of censorship techniques suggests that the blocks were implemented in a decentralized way. This is very similar to how we observed the blocking of Voice of Democracy (VOD) in Cambodia (which started in February 2023).

Recent OONI data suggests that these news media blocks remain ongoing. If you are in Cambodia, you can contribute more measurements by running OONI Probe.