Identity software company Okta has surveyed a bunch of people in the UK and found that we’re among the most willing to provide location data to help fight COVID-19.
This blitz spirit remains in spite of a healthy scepticism about data privacy, with 84% of Brits believing their contact tracing data will be used for purposes unrelated to COVID-19, most probably advertising. 60% of UK respondents said they would be comfortable in providing location data to help the cause, much higher than the Netherlands (45%), Germany (47%), the US (48%) and Australia (49%).
“It’s great to see that despite privacy concerns, UK citizens are willing to provide their data in order to aid containment of COVID-19,” said Jesper Frederiksen, VP & GM EMEA at Okta. “However, it’s important that this trust is not abused. Over half (58%) of British citizens want a limit on who can access this data and many (46%) want a time limit on how long it can be tracked. Those collecting this data need to ensure they restrict who can access it and what it is used for.”
As ever with these corporate surveys, the purpose of the whole exercise will have been to generate demand for their products and services. So a lot of the canned quotes amount to ‘this just goes to show how important it is to protect your digital identity,’ something that Okta specialises in, of course.
But, assuming the data is clean, the findings remain valid. There doesn’t seem to have been a question asked regarding concerns about governments misusing the data themselves, as opposed to just commercializing it. If it was made clearer that the UK government could use contact tracing data to fundamentally infringe on civil liberties then we suspect that 60% number would start to fall rapidly.