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Call for Contributions: COVID-19 and the Rise of Digital Authoritarianism in the Asia-Pacific

“In moments of crisis, people are willing to hand over a great deal of power to anyone who claims to have a magic cure”

― Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism


EngageMedia, in partnership with CommonEdge, is calling for contributions to a series exploring how the response to COVID-19 has accelerated digital authoritarianism in the Asia-Pacific.

We are inviting writers, researchers, and changemakers to respond to the growing digital authoritarianism – accelerated by COVID-19 – in the Asia Pacific. We are interested in receiving essays, articles, and creative pieces that investigate, expose, document, and provoke debate about how digital technologies deployed under the name of COVID-19 management are further infringing on our human and digital rights.

The selected contributions will first be published on, and later in a digital compilation. Accepted contributors will be paid a USD 300 honorarium.


Once upon a time, the internet was seen as a force for good. This is no longer the case. While the internet and digital platforms can still be used to speak out and organise against authoritarianism, our digital world is now a dangerous space for those who dare to criticise power from all sides. State and non-state actors actively target critical and oppositional voices, and networked surveillance is keeping a close eye on dissenters and activists. Peer-to-peer surveillance is growing, where ordinary citizens police those who deviate from government policies.

Digital authoritarianism has accelerated over the past two years. The panic of COVID-19 has driven governments to devise ways of managing their citizens and controlling information and activities using digital technologies. Big and small tech companies, law enforcement agencies, and other vested stakeholders have worked hand in glove with governments to exploit the opportunity to expand their power, control, and profits.

Technologies are being created to track our movements, record who we come into contact with, and segment us based on our health and vaccination status. There is little transparency on how these technologies work and public-private partnerships provide cover for accountability.

This call for contributions aims to generate a conversation about how COVID-19 is fuelling the creation of a new suite of digital technologies, modalities, and cyber policies that will further erode the rights and freedoms of citizens.

Submit a contribution

If you are interested in making a contribution, please submit a complete application form –which includes a 50 to 100 word description of your article proposal – by Sunday, January 23, 2022, 23:59 Bangkok time (UTC+7). Each contributor can submit only one application.

Due to the expected number of submissions, only successful proposals will receive a reply.

Should your proposal be chosen, final versions of your contributions should:

  1. Be written pieces in English
  2. Be between 1,500 to 2,000 words

Accepted contributors will be paid a USD 300 honorarium. Contributions will be licensed under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license.

Should you have more questions or concerns regarding this call, you may contact EngageMedia.

3 thoughts on “Call for Contributions: COVID-19 and the Rise of Digital Authoritarianism in the Asia-Pacific”

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  2. I’m going to try to get on this. the state of the internet js is depressing. i hope I’m able to put in words what is going on in time for this opportunity

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