Digital Populism and Digital Authoritarianism

by | Feb 19, 2023 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

On January 30, 2023, the Sejong Institute held an international seminar titled “Digital Populism and Digital Authoritarianism”. K.S. Park spoke on Privacy and State Surveillance in Southeast Asia with a focus on Indonesia, Viet Nam, and Myanmar.

It is easy to say that digital authoritarianism and digital populism are the two sides of the same coin but people often forget that such statement is ironic because populism requires support of the masses no matter how transient and misinformed it may be and authoritarianism at its core suppresses the will of the masses by force and pre-existing institutions. What makes possible this irony is the state’s ability to conduct surveillance on people – an ability to identify and orient judicial and social attacks toward dissident activists and journalists.  There are three layers of state laws that affect the state’s surveillance capacity.  The first layer consists of data availability.  Mandatory data retention laws fall under this category.  Also, mandatory data localization laws also enhance data availability to the state by obviating the need for going through MLAT process for accessing foreign-based data. The second layer consists of data identification. Mandatory identity verification laws fall under this category.  Also the laws allowing warrantless “unmasking” of data significantly enhance the state ability to target dissidents.  The third layer consists of data acquisition.  The laws allowing access to private data without judicial approval violate international standards of privacy or lower the bar of judicial approval to the extent that it is meaningless.  In this presentation, I will discuss the laws and proposed laws of Indonesia, Myanmar, Viet Nam, and South Korea against the three-layer framework.

Download the presentation here.



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