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Half of Americans approve of using smartphones to track infected individuals

privacy

Pew Research Center asked thousands of US adults what they thought about how personal data should be used to help tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

A surprisingly large proportion of the land of the free are in favour of allowing the government to use smartphones to track individuals suspected of having the bug. 52% were fine with those who have tested positive being tracked, while 45% thought that was fine even for people who had been in contact with an infected person. Most remarkably a third of them thought it was acceptable for the government to track everyone’s location, to make sure they were obeying lockdown rules.

Perversely, 60% of the nearly 5,000 punters surveyed said they didn’t think location tracking would really achieve anything. Since some of those must have been in favour of at least one of the tracking suggestions above, you have to wonder how they could reconcile those two positions.

Other key findings revealed general confusion on the part of many Americans about how their data is collected and what it’s used for. Furthermore they seem to see more negatives than positives from having their data collected and commoditised, which once more makes it surprising that so many of them are fine with digital snooping in the name of safety.


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