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Privacy Attitudes and COVID Symptom Tracking Apps: Understanding Active Boundary Management by Users

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Information for a Better World: Shaping the Global Future (iConference 2022)

Abstract

Multiple symptom tracking applications (apps) were created during the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. While they provided crowdsourced information about the state of the pandemic in a scalable manner, they also posed significant privacy risks for individuals. The present study investigates the interplay between individual privacy attitudes and the adoption of symptom tracking apps. Using the communication privacy theory as a framework, it studies how users’ privacy attitudes changed during the public health emergency compared to the pre-COVID times. Based on focus-group interviews (N = 21), this paper reports significant changes in users’ privacy attitudes toward such apps. Research participants shared various reasons for both increased acceptability (e.g., disease uncertainty, public good) and decreased acceptability (e.g., reduced utility due to changed lifestyle) during COVID. The results of this study can assist health informatics researchers and policy designers in creating more socially acceptable health apps in the future.

This material is in part based upon work supported by the US National Science Foundation (Grant #2027789) and National Institutes of Health.

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Correspondence to Jinkyung Park .

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Park, J., Ahmed, E., Asif, H., Vaidya, J., Singh, V. (2022). Privacy Attitudes and COVID Symptom Tracking Apps: Understanding Active Boundary Management by Users. In: Smits, M. (eds) Information for a Better World: Shaping the Global Future. iConference 2022. Lecture Notes in Computer Science(), vol 13193. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-96960-8_22

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-96960-8_22

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