Data trust and data privacy in the COVID- 19 period

July 30, 2020


In this paper, we focus on data trust and data privacy, and how attitudes may be changing during the COVID-19 period. We also look at the implications of these changes for the take-up and effectiveness of the COVIDSafe App, a mobile phone-based application that was designed to assist in the identification of people who may have unknowingly come into contact with someone who has been infected by COVID-19. On balance, it would appear that Australians are more trusting of organisations with regards to data privacy and less concerned about their own personal information and data than they were prior to the spread of COVID-19. The major determinant of this change in trust with regards to data was changes in general confidence in government institutions. Despite this improvement in trust with regards to data privacy, trust levels are still low.

Trust in data privacy is strongly predictive of the probability of downloading the app. We also find that the age group with the greatest reported level of downloading was 55 to 74 year olds and those in the most advantaged areas are the most likely to have downloaded. Politically, there were no differences between Labor and Coalition voters though we do find a lower probability for those who would not have voted for one of the two major parties. Finally, we also showed a number of other behavioural and attitudinal determinants of COVIDSafe usage. Those who were generally confident in the government, thought it was likely they would be infected, were less populist, more altruistic, and more patient were all more likely to have used the app.


The May ANUpoll was partially funded by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) and the authors would like to thank Matthew James and Cathy Claydon for the considerable input into the design of the survey. The authors would also like to thank a number of people who were involved in the development of the April 2020 ANUpoll questionnaire, including Diane Herz, Dr Benjamin Phillips, Dr Paul Myers, Matilda Page, and Charles Dove from theSocial Research Centre, as well as Professor Ian McAllister, Associate Professor Ben Edwards and Kate Sollis from the ANU.

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Australian National University


COVID-19, data privacy, Data Trust