Indonesia expands COVID-19 app to ration cooking oil

The government that presides over 273 million people demonstrate how COVID-19 apps can be used to impose control over citizens in areas beyond just the coronavirus

Indonesia’s COVID-19 tracking application is now being used to allocate subsidized cooking oil to its citizens.

The COVID-19 app known as PeduliLindungi requires citizens to scan QR codes in order to verify their health and vaccination status to access venues but, amid a local shortage of cooking oil, the government is expanding this power to dictate whether one has purchased their ‘quota’, or limit.

“People’s IDs are verified on PeduliLindungi, so people can scan QR codes and the app will show green, meaning you can buy cooking oil, or red if you’ve met your quota,” said Rachmat Kaimuddin, acting deputy at the Coordiating Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Investment.

While many naively fell for government narratives that such apps would only be used to contain and monitor coronavirus cases, countries around the world are slowly revealing what many had suspected all along – that these apps are merely the stepping stone towards wider government control and, now, it has reached the food system in a country of over 270 million people.

With such digital infrastructure now in place on the back of COVID-19, countries around the world should not be surprised when their governments inevitably use these mechanisms to further control what they can and cannot do, whether it be access to public spaces, travel or purchases.

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