We conducted a non-representative survey of 730 people on May 11—six days into the trial—which has thrown up some findings that could help work out what would convince people to use this app.
Overall, we found multiple concerns about how it operates. Amid concern that the app would gather information in a central database, respondents were less worried about that and more about who would be able to access the data and how it would be stored.
Paradoxically, there was also a strong commitment to downloading the app. Just under 75% of people said they were likely to download the app (28% moderately likely, 20% very likely and 25% extremely likely). Only 13% said they were not likely at all.
Why might there be such strong support for the use of a contact-tracing app in England if there are wide ranging concerns about how it operates?
Data privacy is a significant concern, with 86% of respondents saying it was very or extremely important to them that their data was fully anonymised. And 73% said it was very or extremely important that their data was only stored for a limited amount of time. Some 58% were very or extremely concerned about privacy protection and 60% of people that their data might be used for purposes other than tracing COVID-19.
None of this can have been helped by the vagueness with which data privacy matters have been handled. When the government published a key document on the Isle of Wight pilot, it redacted the parts on data security and gave only ambiguous information about user anonymity.