Asia is the region with the highest level of mass surveillance in the world

According to the Verisk Maplecroft Index, China, Pakistan, Myanmar, Thailand, India, the Philippines, and Cambodia violate personal privacy the most. Artificial intelligence and big data have been used to collect information during the pandemic. Governments need more transparency to reverse the trend.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – The imposition of stringent anti-pandemic rules has transformed Asia into the region with the highest level of mass surveillance in the world, this according to the Verisk Maplecroft Index.

The UK-based analytics and risk-assessment firm behind the index surveyed 198 countries, classifying each for possible privacy violations via mass surveillance, personal data retention, and home searches.

Confirming a trend that began in recent years, the privacy of Asian people is increasingly at risk.  

Among the worst offenders are China, Pakistan, Myanmar, Thailand, India, the Philippines, and Cambodia.

In response to the health crisis, China boosted mass surveillance against its own people, further limiting freedom of speech. To track people with the virus, Chinese authorities have imposed mandatory health apps.

China has also increased the use of facial recognition technologies and drones to track and, if necessary, punish anyone who breaks COVID-19 regulations.

India, the only democracy to make downloading a Covid-19 tracking app mandatory, also plans to introduce a national database by 2021.

New technologies and artificial intelligence and big data collection systems favour the intrusion by authorities into people's privacy. The Internet has not been spared.

Thanks to the powers guaranteed by the state of emergency, Cambodian authorities have been able to monitor social media without any restraints, often to target Prime Minister Hun Sen’s critics.

According to Verisk Maplecroft, threats to privacy rights in Asia will increase in the coming years.

To turn things around, national governments should adopt transparent measures in personal data management, in particular those used to counter the COVID-19 emergency.