Around 60 percent of Canadians say they would sacrifice their privacy if it helped stop the spread of COVID-19, according to a new survey conducted by KPMG.
The findings from this survey come after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently stated that he believes Canadians would be open to providing personal information for digital contact tracing.
Nearly all respondents to the survey, about 92 percent, believe that digital contact tracing apps must balance privacy concerns with public safety. Concerns like these are the reason why the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has outlined guidelines for governments to follow in terms of releasing contact tracing apps.
The survey found that 45 percent of respondents said the government should require Canadians to use their smartphones to share their COVID-19 status as part of contact tracing anonymously. Interestingly, the survey outlines that Quebec residents were most likely to support mandatory use.
On the other hand, 55 percent of respondents said they believe that digital contact tracing should be voluntary due to privacy concerns and the potential abuse of civil liberties. Two-thirds of respondents said that they would not download a contact tracing app because it would be too invasive.
Although more than half believe the use of contact tracing apps should be voluntary, 57 percent say that they don’t think it would be effective unless it is mandatory to download it.
“It’s clear that Canadians understand that contact-tracing apps are effective if participation is high, but the design of such apps must limit threats to privacy as most people aren’t comfortable letting government have free rein to track their phones,” said Sylvia Kingsmill, partner and national digital privacy leader for KPMG, in a press release.
The survey found that 62 percent of Canadians are in favour of allowing the government to use location tracking to send phone alerts to people who have come in contact with someone who has COVID-19.
Further, 82 percent would support an app that is run by public health authorities that shows community “hot spots” for COVID-19. This would allow individuals to make their own decisions on their health.
KPMG compiled this report by surveying 2,000 Canadians between May 7-12th through Methodify, which is a research automation platform.