“Infodemic” and SDGs: Internet Freedoms in Southeast Asia

“Infodemic” and SDGs: Internet Freedoms in Southeast Asia, evaluates the impact of the ‘infodemic’ on internet freedoms in Southeast Asia. Using the Sustainable Development Goals as an indicator, the study analyses how the pandemic has exerted a debilitating effect on the development of internet infrastructure, fundamental freedoms and access to information as articulated in SDG 9.C (Access and Affordability of Internet) and SDG 16.10 (Fundamental Freedoms and Access to Information). The report further highlights that a suite of existing legislation and emergency measures—used by governments to silence their critics, rather than repress the infodemic—have served to regress fundamental human rights. In Southeast Asia, a key point is that governments have strived to define the infodemic as purely citizen-induced, in order to provide justification to enact repressive legislation that suppresses online debate and disregards human rights, while ignoring their role in also contributing to the infodemic. The report provides recommendations that encourage strengthening adherence to the SDGs targets, helping to combat the infodemic without infringing on internet freedoms. This report is a joint project with the Thai Media Fund.