Trends in East Asian Policies on Digital Surveillance Tools During the COVID-19 Pandemic
This article investigates how digital surveillance tools used by East Asian governments against COVID-19 affect privacy and personal data protection. It applies doctrinal legal analysis and case study to compare national regulations of these tools as well as their implementation in China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea. The approaches range considerably from total (China) to selective surveillance, which, however, seems overly excessive towards privacy of certain social groups, exacerbating social stratification and business disruptions in East Asia. The article argues that selective surveillance models vary across the region from voluntary selective (Japan) to compulsory selective surveillance (Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, South Korea) and differ in terms of privacy and related rights. Yet, the increased risks of data misuse and leakages in all the East Asian states and territories need effective legal mechanisms for privacy and data protection that pay sufficient attention to public scrutiny and independent regulators.