Digital Rights

in Southeast Asia 2020/2021

The adoption of digital contact tracing without personal data protection measures, the blocking of hundreds of websites, restrictions on the internet, and the censoring of content by a tech giant – these were just some of the digital challenges to human rights in Southeast Asia in 2020. In the digital age, repressive regimes in countries across the region tried to control information in the digital space, and suppressed the right to freedom of expression. It is also clear that the right to privacy and digital security have been put at great risk by the adoption of digital contact tracing, due to the potential it creates for mass surveillance. Disinformation and misinformation about COVID-19 has also been used as a pretext to threaten free speech.

This report addresses the situation concerning digital rights in Southeast Asia in 2020. In addition to exploring the regional impact of technology on human rights, it highlights three main issues:

  • Digital contact tracing as a result of the pandemic has put the right to privacy and digital security at risk due to the potential for mass surveillance.
  • Facebook censored content on its platform in three countries in accordance with government orders based on repressive laws.
  • Many governments are using the COVID-19 “infodemic”, or the dissemination of COVID-19-related disinformation and misinformation, as a pretext to silence critics.

The full report is available here.