Cambodia on Tuesday rejected criticism over its move to establish a national internet gateway.

“The allegation that the establishment of national internet gateway permits Cambodian authorities to monitor and conduct surveillance of internet activity… are unfounded,” Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said in a statement.

All internet traffic in Cambodia is scheduled to pass through the state-controlled gateway starting Wednesday.

There were reports on Tuesday by international news outlets of a delay in its implementation, but the government has not made an official announcement in this regard.

Critics claim the new gateway could be used to stifle freedom of expression in Cambodia and silence the country’s embattled opposition.

However, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government contends the plan will “strengthen national security and tax collection” and help “maintain social order and protect national culture.”

Cambodia set up an inter-ministerial committee in 2019 to evaluate the internet gateway project.

The government has maintained that the plan “was prepared in a transparent manner” and after “consultations were held with experts, private sector and relevant institutions.”

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