Privacy, Security, and Surveillance in the Global South: A Study of Biometric Mobile SIM Registration in Bangladesh
Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
With the rapid growth of ICT adoption in the Global South, crimes over and through digital technologies have also increased. Consequently, governments have begun to undertake a variety of different surveillance programs, which in turn provoke questions regarding citizens’ privacy rights. However, both the concepts of privacy and of citizens’ corresponding political rights have not been well developed in HCI for non-Western contexts. This paper presents findings from a three-month long ethnography and online survey (n=606) conducted in Bangladesh, where the government recently imposed mandatory biometric registration for every mobile phone user. Our analysis surfaces important privacy and safety concerns regarding identity, ownership, and trust, and reveals the cultural and political challenges of imposing biometric registration program in Bangladesh. We also discuss how alternative designs of infrastructure, technology, and policy may better meet stakeholders’ competing needs in the Global South.