Australian study suggests pandemic increased public trust in data privacy

Over 3,000 Australians were recruited to analyze their attitudes toward personal data and privacy before and during the recent coronavirus outbreak.

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Among Australians, the COVID-19 pandemic induced more trust of organizations and governments with regards to their data privacy, a new study by the Australian National University found.

According to ANU researchers, over 3,000 Australians were recruited to analyze their attitudes toward personal data and privacy before and during the recent coronavirus outbreak.

In the study, the participants expressed their level of trust in how their data privacy was handled by a number of organizations and governments, based on a ranking scale of one to 10.

The results showed that the Australian Bureau of Statistics was viewed as the organization with the highest level of trust among the participants. Over the past few years, trust levels had increased from 6.42 to 7.10 between 2018 and 2020, the study uncovered.

“The level of Australians’ trust, confidence and concerns about sharing their personal data is a critical question during this pandemic,” said Nicholas Biddle, co-author of the study.

“It directly relates to the extent to which governments are able to use personal data to monitor and control the spread of COVID-19. In turn, the extent to which governments’ protect personal data will help shape the Australians’ views about how their data is shared and used into the future.”

“Our findings provide strong support for the notion that trust and confidence in different aspects of policy design and delivery interact with each other, creating vicious or virtuous circles,” Biddle concluded, in a news release.

Furthermore, the Australian research team studied the COVIDSafe app designed to improve implementations put forth as a result of the pandemic

“Our research shows that the level of trust in the app strongly related to people’s trust in the government; if they trust government they are more likely to download it,” Biddle also concluded.

“For those who had not tried to download the app, the two most common reasons given related to trust, with 20. 8 percent of Australians saying they didn’t trust government with their data and an additional 20.5 percent saying they didn’t trust the safety of the app.”

The study, titled Data trust and data privacy in the COVID19 period, was also authored by Kate Sollis, Ben Edwards, Matthew Gray, Michael Hiscox, and Steven McEachern.

© Image courtesy of Geotab