Breaking Barriers to Multistakeholder Collaboration

Southeast Asia Civil Society and Covid-19 Surveillance Technology


A report by the Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet) finds that the ability for civil society to promote change in the region is increasingly restricted, particularly with the advent of contact tracing apps (CTAs) created as a COVID-19 response.

Six Southeast Asian countries researched in this study (i.e., Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, Timor-Leste, and Myanmar) adopted e-health surveillance technologies, particularly contact tracing apps (CTAs), as an integral part of the COVID-19 pandemic responses. However, the deployment of such technologies raised questions around rights compliance, including privacy and civic freedoms concerns, as a result of lack of oversight and civil society input around tracking technology during the COVID19 public health emergency. There are also concerns around the legacies of this technology and ongoing usage post-pandemic, particularly in more authoritarian contexts.

SAFEnet recommends coordinating the work of civil society to focus on digital rights whilst working together with authorities and the private sector to mitigate the risks of civil society being surveilled by adversarial actors.

Download the full report here.