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Tracing surveillance and auto-regulation in Singapore: ‘Smart’ responses to COVID-19

Lee, T.ORCID: 0000-0003-3333-0076 and Lee, H. (2020) Tracing surveillance and auto-regulation in Singapore: ‘Smart’ responses to COVID-19. Media International Australia, 177 (1). pp. 47-60.

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The wealthy and ‘smart’ city-state of Singapore was one of the first to develop a mobile tracing app called TraceTogether during the coronavirus outbreak. It then pivoted towards developing a wearable tech device in order to reach all 5.7 million residents, brushing off concerns about privacy and surveillance. This article tracks the development of TraceTogether and engages in critical debates that have ensued around the use of the app, namely around the twin implications of privacy protection and the conduct of surveillance in a panoptic and auto-regulatory society that privileges socio-political discipline and control. With health crises and pandemics becoming more commonplace, more people around the world are being persuaded to wear some loss of privacy to trust ‘smart’ technologies to aid us in fighting enemies that are deadly and invisible. Singapore could already be offering a glimpse of how this can be done now, and in the future.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Creative Media, Arts and Design
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Copyright: © 2020 the Author(s)
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