Seeing With Transparency: Mapping the Privacy-Security Controversy Over Digital Contact Tracing in Vietnam

Dang Nguyen


Tracing the debates among technical experts across GitHub, social media, blogging platforms, and diasporic and state news media, this article examines a public controversy surrounding user privacy and app security regarding Bluezone, Vietnam’s national digital contact tracing app. Using controversy mapping, a method rooted in the actor-network theory, the article approaches what appears to be a highly technical debate among experts and displays the various actor associations through which the controversy is fought and social arrangements established. Arguing that the technical transparency produced through open-source architecture is incompatible with the epistemic transparency conducive to transformative politics, the article demonstrates the kind of work that transparency is made to do in a conspicuously nontransparent governmental context through an open-source architecture. It also argues that transparency can neither be relied on as a framework for legitimacy nor welcomed as a substitute for formal institutional structures that ensure accountable governance of public socio-technical systems.


transparency, open source, privacy by design, controversy mapping, Google/Apple Exposure Notification

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