Southeast Asia’s 600 million people are coming online rapidly, often with limited scrutiny of business and government activities, or participation from civil society. Countries like Indonesia are among the highest social-media users anywhere in the world, with its activists making extensive use of emerging technologies to champion human rights, uncover corruption, challenge inequality, and to support many other causes.
Civil society actors from the Philippines to Malaysia and Myanmar to Singapore are making innovative use of online technologies. However, they nd themselves in an online environment that is increasingly full of risks and which is being skewed towards the needs of government and business interests, often at the expense of openness and equal access.
Southeast Asia has a growing number of technology, media and policy organisations that focus on internet rights issues, with approaches ranging from developing homegrown open-source technologies to campaigning against surveillance and website blocking, and challenging legislation. Many Southeast Asian governments are engaging in censorship, surveillance and attacks on online freedom of expression, including the ltering of content, and the arrest and detention of bloggers and journalists.