Australians have become less trusting of how governments and companies use their data since the arrival of the pandemic and QR code check-in apps.
New research from the Australian National University reveals data privacy trust in major entities fell from an average of 5.70 out of 10 to 5.49 between May 2020 and August 2021.
Co-author of the study and ANU professor Nicholas Biddle said although the drop is small the impact is “significant”.
“This is especially the case as the pandemic, lockdowns and the use of apps for contact tracing continued, and even intensified in some cases,” Biddle said.
“Our analysis, covering a time when much of the east coast of Australia was living in lockdown, shows Australians were starting to get more wary about how their private data from check-in apps might be used by major institutions, including governments and corporations.
In the study of more than 3000 people, social media companies saw the biggest decline in trust over the year, from 3.43 out of 10 from 3.08.
Meanwhile, trust in the federal government fell from 6.29 out of 10 to 5.88 and online e-commerce stores fell from 4.94 to 4.58.
“However, what is interesting is that trust in institutions to maintain data privacy still remains higher than what it was before the pandemic,” added Biddle.
“In comparison, in October 2018 Australians’ trust in how institutions maintain data privacy was 4.78.”
Despite low trust levels, Australian’s are willing to continue using check-in apps, QR codes and other tracing sites to “do the right thing”.
“In another really fascinating finding, the majority of Australians who expressed low trust in how institutions use their data, 54.2 percent, said they always use check-in apps,” Biddle said.
“While this is quite a fair bit lower than those who have high trust in institutions, 68.5 percent, it shows that despite their concerns, many Australians are doing the right thing and what they have been asked to do by governments to help keep each other and their communities safe during the pandemic.”
Biddle said the study found Australians also expressed increased concerns about the overall security of personal data and information “jumping from 20.82 to 21.40 on a scale of seven to 28 over the same period”.
Vaccinated Australians were also more likely to use check-in apps than those still unvaccinated.
According to the findings 65.6 percent of vaccinated people said that they always check-in, compared to 56.9 percent of those who had not been vaccinated.