Stop Covid-19 System

This shop has a string up to keep customers from entering and it also displays a “Stop Covid-19” QR system poster for recording those coming to the shop.
A QR code poster for an NGO. A customer uses an app on her phone to scan the QR code, and her presence at this site at such and such a time is recorded in a government database.

More than 155,000 shops and institutions have signed up to participate in the “Stop Covid-19” program which seeks to record who visits a site in order to assist contact tracing if necessary should a Covid-19-infected person visit that location. When introducing the scheme, the government downplayed any concerns about privacy but there are no restrictions or limitations on the way the government can use a person’s personal information if the person uses her phone to scan the QR code at a store.

Human Rights Watch has warned: “Cambodia’s QR Code system is ripe for rights abuses because it lacks privacy protections for personal data. These concerns are heightened by the government’s stepped-up online surveillance of Cambodians since the outset of the pandemic, putting government critics and activists at greater risk.”

Hong Kong, too…

Our Asia superior in Hong Kong reported today that John Clancey was arrested under Hong Kong’s new draconian state security laws. John was a Maryknoll priest in Hong Kong right before I came. He left Maryknoll but stayed on in Hong Kong as a lawyer working for civil and human rights. He must have been doing good work to get Beijing riled up. Hang in there, John!

This is the way the BBC reported his arrest.

Press Freedom

Recently Reporters without Borders ranked Cambodia at #144 of 180 countries evaluated in their survey of press freedom throughout the world. That was a drop of one place since the last ranking.

May 4, 2020: This was the prime minister’s contention in his acknowledgment of World Press Freedom Day.
April 9, 2020: Sovann Rithy, the editor-in-chief of TVFB, an online news outlet, was arrested for quoting a public statement of the prime minister. He was charged with incitement “to cause chaos and harm social security.” TVFB’s license was also revoked.