On health and privacy: technology to combat the pandemic

Findings from Your DNA, Your Say are cited in this bulletin from the Bank for International Settlement
19th May 2020

Key takeaways of the bulletin (from the BIS website):

Technology has been harnessed in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, eg to administer remote medical consultations, analyse aggregate movements and track paths of contact.

Successful applications are predicated on broad public support. They must address concerns about data privacy, and the potential for misuse of data by governments and companies.

Transparent public policies and clear governance frameworks can help to build trust. One possible approach is to differentiate data use during a pandemic and in normal times.

Excerpt from bulletin:

Individuals’ trust in different actors to store and analyse health data varies quite dramatically.

Graph 2 (left-hand panel) plots the share of survey respondents that trust different counterparties to handle their DNA and health information (Middleton and Milne (2019)). Across all regions, around 70% of respondents are willing to share their data with their doctors and 32% trust non-profit researchers to handle their health information with due diligence. Yet less than 20% trust their government to do so, and only 15% trust private companies. Preferences differ across regions: in Europe and the Americas, people generally trust their doctors, but are not willing to share data with governments and private companies to a similar extent. In Asia-Pacific, trust is on average higher, which could reflect the fact that recent experiences with other epidemics may have increased the willingness to share data when public health is in danger. Respondents in India and China report the highest values in the sample.



CantĂș C, Cheng G, Doerr S, Frost J and Gambacorta L for the Bank for International Settlement (2020). On health and privacy: technology to combat the pandemic. BIS bulletin no. 17. 19th May.