Data protection fears limit popularity of contact tracing apps

© Keystone / Christian Beutler

Data protection, fear of surveillance and lack of interest are three of the main reasons people have not downloaded Covid-19 tracing apps such as SwissCovid, according to a survey conducted in Switzerland, Germany and Austria. 

This content was published on November 19, 2020 - 17:51

The study by the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), published on Thursday, found that almost half (46%) of Swiss respondents had downloaded the SwissCovid app. This is more than the official estimate (30%). Fewer Germans (38%) and Austrians (18%) had downloaded tracing apps available in their respective countries. 

Data protection concerns are the most frequent reason cited by the Swiss for not installing the application (32%). Around 20% of people are worried that the pandemic and the application could be used for surveillance purposes. Lack of interest (31%) and difficulty in perceiving the benefits of such an application (26%) are also mentioned. 

“People who don't download the app seem to give more weight to their own sensitivities than to the personal and social benefits. In Switzerland and Germany, moreover, it has been shown that people who know an infected person are more likely to install the app,” says Caroline Brüesch, author of the study. 

The decision to install the contact tracing app was most often influenced by government campaigns, media coverage and immediate surroundings. More men than women tend to download the app.  

The Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) interviewed 3,000 people in the three countries during September. 

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