Among Americans, Support for Privacy Rights Is High Amid Pandemic
New survey shows over half of Americans say retaining their personal privacy is more important than surrendering it in order to fight the coronavirus.
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With the COVID-19 pandemic raging on, governments are scrambling to contain
the spread of the disease. As a consequence, the use of extreme measures
might be about to become the norm.
asked people in the U.S. how they feel about possibly giving up their
privacy during the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. The
survey found huge support for personal privacy.
For example, when it comes to the overall outlook towards privacy in the
U.S., an overwhelming majority (89%) of Americans either support or
strongly support privacy rights. In fact, over half (52%) of Americans
believe that retaining their personal privacy is more important than
surrendering it to the authorities in order to fight the spread of the
Almost two-thirds (65%) would disapprove of the government collecting their
data or using facial recognition to track their whereabouts.
Patient Tracking Apps
In light of countries such as Singapore, Spain, and Poland introducing or
preparing to introduce mandatory geolocation and surveillance applications
to track COVID-19, CyberNews.com proposed four scenarios to respondents.
The results include:
- Only 27% would give an app permission to track their location; 43% said
they would not and 29% were not sure
- Almost a third (30%) would grant an app permission to display their
location to others if they were infected; 48% would not and 22% weren’t
- Asked if they would grant permission to a state-sponsored app to analyze
location data transmitted by their phone to determine how many people were
obeying a government lockdown, 36% said they would but 42% said they would
Fears of Long-Term Loss of Privacy Rights
Finally, roughly two-thirds of Americans are worried that the tracking
measures used to contain the spread of the virus could lead to greater
When asked how worried they are that the tracking measures used to contain
the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to greater government surveillance, 9%
were not worried, 38% were worried, 36% were very worried, and 17% were not
In addition, most survey respondents (79%) were either somewhat worried or
very worried that intrusive tracking measures enacted by the government
would continue long after the COVID-19 pandemic has been defeated:
The survey took place in April 2020 among a random sample of 1,255 adults
based in the U.S via SurveyMonkey’s “Audience” platform, which says its
demographic make-up of respondents is representative of the U.S.