Published between April and August 2022, the 10 articles from Indonesia, Vietnam, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Australia examine the how and the why of each country’s pandemic response, and shed light on more rights-respecting paths.
Harindrini Corea and Zayed Siddiki, contributors of EngageMedia’s Pandemic of Control series, elaborate on how the digital technologies used for pandemic management have infringed on human and digital rights in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
The government’s COVID-19 response opened the door to various threats to human and digital rights. With the influence of its neighbours with poor rights records, Nepal must decide on its own path if it envisions a democratic digital ecosystem.
India’s focus on a deterministic and ideological usage of technology to manage the COVID-19 health crisis has not only mismanaged the pandemic, but has pushed the country to contend with Orwellian realities.
Digital authoritarianism in Bangladesh: Weaponising a draconian law to silence dissent in the pandemic era
The COVID-19 pandemic provided the government with pretext to censor free speech, harass critics, and effectively curb dissent – accelerating what has been an ongoing turn towards authoritarianism in Bangladesh.
In Indonesia, the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the government with the opportunity to further accelerate digital authoritarianism through online surveillance, censorship, and online manipulation.
Australia adopted a range of technology based responses to address the COVID-19 pandemic, but this approach resulted in “solutions” that ranged from the outright ineffective to the actively punitive.
COVID-19 drove the shift to digital services in India, but this has left informal workers struggling to access basic services and protect their personal data within a system they do not fully understand.
The Zalo Connect app in Vietnam connects users in need with private donors. But in doing so, it exemplifies a humanitarian trend that centres on extracting data from vulnerable communities as a precondition to receiving aid, protection, and justice.