Contact tracing and internet blackouts

Vietnam has been lauded for its robust Covid response, part of which has been the rolling out of contact-tracing app Bluezone. But with few inside the tightly controlled communist state able to scrutinise the methods of those in power, it's been left to the Globe's fearless Sarah Kim to unravel concerns about the app and its potential implications for user privacy. We also turn to Rakhine State in Myanmar, where an internet blackout is leaving women even more vulnerable to sexual violence, and with limited means to report it when it does occur

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October 2, 2020
Contact tracing and internet blackouts

Vietnam’s contact-tracing app: Public health tool or creeping surveillance?

Contact tracing has emerged as a key strategy for combating pandemic Covid-19, but at times it can feel like a trade-off between public health and personal privacy. Vietnam has earned some international recognition for its efforts to contain the novel coronavirus, in no small part due to a robust contact tracing program now assisted by the smartphone app Bluezone. But one of the country’s top information security engineers is pointing out that Bluezone’s surveillance capabilities may be creeping further into public data than its users realise.

Left in the dark: Rakhine state’s internet blackout leaves women at risk

For 16 months now, Myanmar’s central authorities have held much of the conflict-torn western state of Rakhine under an internet blackout. With access to information virtually shut down under the rationale of preventing “illegal activities” in the running conflict between the Burmese military and the Arakan Army (AA), thousands of civilians have been left in the dark. Civil society organisations are sounding an increasingly urgent alarm, particularly on behalf of the region’s many vulnerable women.

[Photos] Armed with a radio, Cambodian girl climbs tree to access education

This story, our latest in partnership with Aide et Action, comes in equal parts charm and empowerment. Srey Ka, a young student from a rural fishing village in Cambodia’s northeast Kratié province, is determined to learn even as the lingering risk of Covid-19 has shut down her school. What’s a girl to do? For Srey Ka, the answer is simple: Grab her radio, climb a nice, tall tree and tune in for six weekly hours of educational radio. Srey Ka is just one of many students in Cambodia getting access to educational radio with help from Aide et Action. Resilience in the face of hardship — I enjoyed this story, and I think you will too.

The art of political jiu-jitsu and Thailand’s student revolution

As the youth-led social movement gathers speed in Thailand, professor Mark S. Cogan reflects on the successes and failures of other protests to outline what essential tools of non-violent political action demonstrators have at their disposal.

A Good True Thai: Thai-American author talks revolution and radicalisation

With the release of her book, A Good True Thai, Thai-American author Sunisa Manning talks about how the Thammasat Massacre inspired her novel, and what lessons current protesters can draw from those events four decades ago.

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