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October 1, 2020, 06.17 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, – Mass surveillance during the coronavirus pandemic puts Asia as the world’s highest-risk region for serious privacy breaches.

The Right to Privacy Index (RPI), published by UK-based risk consultancy Verisk Maplecroft, rated 198 countries for privacy violations in which several Asian countries were ranked as most at risk.

The firm looked at privacy violations stemming from mass surveillance operations, retention of personal data, home searches, and other breaches.

The findings also revealed that in recent years, Asia has seen privacy breaches deteriorate in the region. 

Read also: Indonesia’s Tokopedia User Data Hacked, Sold, and Shared on Facebook

Researchers warned that the breach of privacy in Asia could worsen as coronavirus pandemic mass surveillance measures are poised to become permanent in many countries.

"Asia as a region risks sleep-walking into serious privacy breaches if there isn't transparency when it comes to data use with respect to Covid-19 surveillance measures," said Sofia Nazalya, a human rights analyst at Verisk Maplecroft.

Asian countries scored worse on average than nations in other regions, Singapore-based Nazalya, the author of the study, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

The pandemic has enabled authorities from China to Russia to increase surveillance and clamp down on free speech, digital rights experts say.

Many countries have tightened border controls and imposed travel bans.

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