More than half of Americans are estimated to be willing to share their medical records and COVID-19 records, but they continue to fear that the state is monitoring them.
As the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus reaches 30 million worldwide, governments are looking for ways to mitigate serious cases so that hospitals are not overwhelmed.
One of the suggested methods is contact detection, an idea based on people who provide various relevant information about them, such as the places they visit. The purpose is to create one application which will alert users in the event of contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case. Track-and-trace systems are at different levels of development. The application Protect Scotland was recently launched and EU countries began to test an interoperability gateway for the whole continent.
These types of applications may be able to track the spread of COVID-19 worldwide, but privacy remains an important issue for discussion, especially if data mobile telephony and location of the user end up on central servers to which the government services for purposes other than limiting the pandemic.
On Wednesday, Virtru published the results of a study that examines the opinion of American citizens about the location contacts and the disclosure of their medical records in the fight against COVID-19.
The research is based on research conducted by The Harris Poll on Virtru in July. The survey involved more than 2.000 Americans over the age of 18.
Overall, just over half of U.S. citizens - 52% - said they were willing to share their medical records and data, even beyond COVID-19, with government agencies if this would help fight the pandemic. If they are given access control to their own information and are able to block access or delete data at any time, 61% would be willing to do so.
However, when it comes to information collected by contact tracking applications such as location and user data, 42% of those surveyed were unsure if this was good for their privacy.
Overall, the most trust is in the detection applications provided by healthcare providers and technology companies, with 34% and 28% of respondents saying they will be trusted.
The idea of a "surveillance state" is also on the minds of many, due to the well-known mass surveillance programs of USA, bulk data collection and efforts to force technology providers to intentionally install backdoors in encrypted services. Overall, 62% of participants cited these issues as a potential barrier to their willingness to share their medical data. Overall, 31% of respondents said the government's attitude so far has had a "major impact" on their willingness to share sensitive medical information.