Even for Personal Gain, Opinions Are Split on Reusing Data From COVID-19 Pandemic

Survey respondents prefer their data to be reused if it’s for pandemic prevention or better personal healthcare.

Containment solutions to COVID-19 across the globe have relied on data. Whether it’s travel data, health data, or mobile location data, governments around the globe have used a variety of different approaches to contain the spread of the coronavirus. But despite differences in method, a six-nation Oliver Wyman Forum survey found that data-sharing preferences of individuals from around the globe are common in a reluctance to share personal information.

That reluctance carries over into the question of whether that data can be reused for other purposes. For the most part, survey respondents were not keen on data gathered on them during the pandemic being reused for other means, even if it benefited them in societal or financial gains. Naturally, people are more comfortable with the reuse of their anonymous data than identifiable data. But even if the data were identifiable, some benefits were more incentivizing than others.

Improving individual healthcare in exchange for the reuse of data was one incentive that was best received. Germany, whether it was anonymous or identifiable data, was the most comfortable in their data being reused for healthcare benefits. The US and UK were both the two least comfortable in each data set. 

Whether the data is anonymous or identifiable doesn’t seem to matter much to Germans in the next survey prompt: gaining better goods and services for the reuse of data. In both data sets, there was just a 13 percent comfortability rate among Germans. It didn’t seem to matter too much to Singaporeans, either: There was just a two-percent change between anonymous and identifiable data. 

And speaking of Singapore, respondents from the city-state were also the most comfortable with their data being reused for financial benefits. Germany had the lowest rate of comfortability in both anonymous and identifiable data sets.

For over half of survey respondents, pandemic prevention is worth their anonymous data being reused. Enjoying better personal healthcare, too, was convincing enough for over half of respondents outside of the US and UK. But there was a sharp decline in comfortability if that anonymous data would gain respondents better goods and services or financial benefits. 

More insights from the Oliver Wyman Forum’s six-nation survey on data-sharing attitudes during the COVID-19 pandemic are available here.