COVID-19 Contact Tracing and Privacy: Studying Opinion and Preferences

Publication Type: 
White Paper / Report
Publication Date: 
May 8, 2020


There is growing interest in technology-enabled contact tracing, the process of identifying potentially infected COVID-19 patients by notifying all recent contacts of an infected person. Governments, technology companies, and research groups alike recognize the potential for smartphones, IoT devices, and wearable technology to automatically track “close contacts” and identify prior contacts in the event of an individual’s positive test. However, there is currently significant public discussion about the tensions between effective technology-based contact tracing and the privacy of individuals. To inform this discussion, we present the results of a sequence of online surveys focused on contact tracing and privacy, each with 100 participants. Our first surveys were on April 1 and 3, and we report primarily on those first two surveys, though we present initial findings from later survey dates as well. Our results present the diversity of public opinion and can inform the public discussion on whether and how to leverage technology to reduce the spread of COVID-19. We are continuing to conduct longitudinal measurements, and will update this report over time; citations to this version of the report should reference Report Version 1.0, May 8, 2020.

Full paper available for download here