Americans trust big tech companies like Amazon, Facebook and Google to collect their sensitive, personal information through COVID-19 contact tracing over the federal government, according to a survey released this week.
The survey found 60% of Americans trust big tech companies to oversee contact tracing—the act of identifying and monitoring people who may have been exposed to COVID-19—while only 40% said they’d prefer federal agencies oversee contact tracing.
Further, among the 1,200 Americans surveyed in May by software firm ExpressVPN and online sampling service Lucid, 84% expressed concern the government would misuse sensitive personal information, like phone location data, compared to 79% expressing similar concern over its misuse by tech companies.
However, the survey indicates Americans are torn between personal privacy rights and public safety. More than half of those surveyed thought they should be forgoing some personal privacy rights to aid public safety efforts, and 54% indicated they would voluntarily opt-in to COVID-19 tracing applications. More than 3 in 4 of those surveyed believe digital contact tracing puts them at risk of long-term mass surveillance regardless of who oversees it.
“It’s clear that most Americans are invested in the public health benefits of using contact-tracing technology. However, privacy concerns continue to weigh heavily, and it’s clear that governments and tech companies need to place clear limits and safeguards on contact-tracing efforts,” Harold Li, vice president of ExpressVPN, said in a statement.