Privacy attitudes in times of crisis: Acceptance of data sharing for public health?

Gerdon, Frederic ; Nissenbaum, Helen ; Bach, Ruben L. ; Kreuter, Frauke ; Zins, Stefan

Document Type: Conference presentation
Year of publication: 2021
Conference title: Joint Statistical Meetings 2021
Location of the conference venue: Online
Date of the conference: 08.-12.08.2021
Publication language: English
Institution: School of Social Sciences > Statistik u. Sozialwissenschaftliche Methodenlehre (Kreuter 2014-2020)
School of Social Sciences > Statistik u. Sozialwiss. Methodenlehre (Juniorprofessur) (Keusch 2016-2021)
Außerfakultäre Einrichtungen > Mannheim Centre for European Social Research - Research Department A
Subject: 300 Social sciences, sociology, anthropology
310 Statistics
Keywords (English): privacy , COVID-19 , health data , survey experiment , data sharing , public good
Abstract: Contact tracing and donated symptom data aid in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. While such data are highly valuable, a privacy issue may arise if data gathering systems put into place now persist beyond the pandemic and ignore the appropriate flow of information in the future. Do people accept the use of health data for the sake of public health now, and can we infer from current to future acceptance? We happened to conduct a survey experiment in Germany that examined acceptance of sharing data for a public good, among others fighting the spread of an infectious disease, in July 2019. We repeated the study in April 2020 during a peak of the pandemic in Germany. These data reveal changes in respondents’ acceptance to share data for public health purposes in response to the crisis. Acceptance of the use of health data to combat an infectious disease outbreak increased notably between the two measurements, while acceptance of data use in several other scenarios barely changed over time. The data presented here are a good reminder for policymakers to carefully consider the intended purpose of and appropriate limitations on data use.

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