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Mass Surveillance Turns Asia into World’s Highest-Risk Region for Privacy Violations

October 1, 2020, 06.17 PM

Also in China, authorities have used voice-activated drones to track Covid-19 hotspots, hovering over people and berating anyone seen breaking the anti-virus controls, she added.

Read also: Singapore to Track Incoming Travellers Quarantine Compliance Via Electronic Device

Cambodian authorities introduced emergency powers such as unlimited social media surveillance to tackle "fake news", which had often targeted government critics, Nazalya said.

India, which was the only democracy to make downloading a Covid-19 tracking app mandatory with the threat of jail or fines, also plans to introduce a national database by 2021, which could worsen privacy rights, the report said.

Asian countries often lack adequate oversight of mass surveillance systems and legislation to protect privacy, data rights advocates say.

Although challenging, more governments should introduce data privacy laws and enforce them, Nazalya said, adding that businesses must not ignore the issue of deteriorating privacy rights as they bring both reputational and compliance risks.

Read also: Singapore Listed as World’s Smartest Cities Alongside Helsinki, Zurich

"The first step is for there to be that crucial push for civil society to really examine what needs to be done when we look at technology, data breaches and privacy," she said.

"(But) in terms of the government looking at data privacy, there needs to be transparency in how data is used, stored, who has access to your private data."

(Writer: Michael Taylor, Thomson Reuters Foundation | Editor: Helen Popper) 


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