Technology helped the people of Myanmar cope with COVID-19. But the military junta has also taken advantage of the health crisis to strengthen its digital dictatorship through various surveillance practices deployed concurrently with the pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic normalised digital authoritarianism in Singapore and shaped the city-state’s attitude and mindset towards state surveillance, writes James Gomez, Regional Director at the Asia Centre.
In the Philippines, some of the measures enacted at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be used to this day to repress freedom of expression, especially critical voices, and normalise state surveillance.
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.