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  • Writer's pictureManushya Foundation

RightsCon 2020 - Will democracy survive ‘national security’ in the digital space of Southeast Asia?

At RightsCon2020, Manushya Foundation and PEN international hosted a panel session titled, 'Will democracy survive ‘national security’ in the digital space of Southeast Asia?' on Friday 31st July 2020, from 5.00 PM to 6.00 PM Bangkok time.

At this session, leading voices working on the ground in Southeast Asia shared how civic space in this region is being threatened by governments misusing 'national security' to pass anti-democratic laws and restrict online freedom, while pressuring tech companies to assist them in online surveillance. They also shared, how 'national security' is used to restrict online speech during COVID-19 in Southeast Asia, through the declaration of emergency and the adoption of emergency laws that restrict or shut down access to the internet and punish any online criticism of the government and its actions.

The panel was the only panel of its kind at RightsCon 2020, with all expert panelists from Southeast Asia who highlighted the legal challenges using cases from Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam; and also shared solutions to address the rise of digital dictatorship in ASEAN with strategies to fight back violations of online freedom, online privacy, and access to information.

Check the full video of the session below:

What is RightsCon?

This is the ninth edition of RightsCon hosted online from July 27-31, bringing the digital rights community and other stakeholders together, across borders and time zones for the continued protection of and respect for human rights in the digital age even during the global pandemic. To learn more, visit:

RightsCon 2020 - Concept Note
Download PDF • 5.43MB

Download the concept note to learn more about democracy and ‘national security’ in the digital space of Southeast Asia!

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