To examine how countries in Southeast Asia have responded to COVID-19 using technology through an analysis using the human rights approach, and understanding the implications of this technology on surveillance and privacy.
To track the development of digital contact tracing efforts in Southeast Asia to understand how surveillance has been normalized and how the right to privacy has been overlooked.
To map out the narratives on surveillance in Southeast Asia in the time of crisis and what are the lesson learned.
To understand the situation in order to develop an advocacy strategy based on the identified narratives and key findings.
The information in this project is based on secondary resources, which includes news articles and academic research. The analytical approach in this project is based on the right to privacy as a universal human rights principle described in Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). This analysis looks at both technical and policy aspects. Information on the technical part of the right to privacy is gathered from secondary sources, such as academic papers, reviews, and analyses from various independent technical sources. This analysis also includes findings from the examination of the released source code of the app and hardware parts, and the results from reverse engineering. All secondary sources are cited. DigitalReach also examined the released source code of a number of apps including Singapore’s TraceTogether and Thailand’s Mor Chana. The content related to policy is analyzed based on the international best practices as well as the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Ethical Considerations to Guide the Use of Digital Proximity Tracking Technologies for COVID-19 contact tracing.
Digital contact tracing apps, platforms, and devices can be a moving target, while the software updates may not be sufficiently transparent. Therefore, it is also challenging to gather information about the updates and their treatment of personal data and the privacy of users. In order to access this information for a more thorough analysis of the app, an analysis would need to use reverse engineering. However, reverse engineering requires a substantial amount of resources, including a team of highly-skilled people to conduct reverse engineering and who can monitor the development of digital contact tracing apps, platforms, and devices on a full-time basis. Reverse engineering is also time-consuming and can be complicated, and as such, may require an interpretation of technical analysis into plain English for a general audience. Information from reverse engineering can therefore be challenging to conduct for the purpose of analysis.