October 27, 2020
Categorized: IBM Policy Lab
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From powering our work from home to connecting young people to remote schooling, the new normal of COVID-19 has made us more reliant on tech than ever before. At the same time, more consumers are paying attention to issues of privacy and data security, especially as we grapple with large-scale public health responses to the crisis.
In partnership with Morning Consult, the IBM Policy Lab took a deep dive into these issues, surveying adults in the United States and the European Union on ways COVID-19 has changed their outlook on technology and what role tech companies can and should play in responding to the pandemic.
Here’s a look at our findings.
Two-thirds of respondents in the US and EU think that technology has helped improve their lives during COVID-19.
Almost half (49%) of respondents across the US and EU are more concerned about privacy as a result of contact tracing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a result of these concerns, more than two thirds (62%) of Americans and Europeans strongly support policy action to safeguard consumer data.
“An important part of our work at the IBM Policy Lab is understanding the public’s perspective on key tech issues and using these learnings to help inform our own public policy recommendations,” said IBM Policy Lab co-Director Ryan Hagemann. “What is clear from this new poll is that the public is counting on the tech industry to play a leading role in the response to COVID. People recognize that technology is a bright spot in these challenging times but expect industry to ensure privacy and the responsible use of AI remain front-line considerations. Industry and policymakers should take heed of these expectations, lest we risk the public losing trust in the many benefits afforded by new emerging technologies.”
A majority (64%) of respondents in the United States believe that the tech industry and private sector as a whole should play a significant role in the pandemic response.
A majority of respondents believe that tech companies have a great deal of responsibility to protect consumer data, use artificial intelligence safely, address the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, tackle climate change, and address racial injustice.
In the European Union, more respondents believe tech companies have a higher level of responsibility to tackle climate change than those in the US.
“This new polling underscores just how important trust in technology is,” said Christina Montgomery, IBM Vice President and Chief Privacy Officer. “Pandemic tech solutions involving tech like contact tracing have sparked new conversations about privacy and data protection, underscoring how critical it is that COVID-19 technologies be designed with privacy and security built-in at the very start. The more confident consumers are that their privacy is being protected, the greater the trust. The greater the trust, the more likely consumers will participate in tech-aided public health solutions, improving their effectiveness.”
IBM has long called for a precision regulation approach to ensuring trust in technology: addressing the areas of concern without limiting innovation. Our polling shows support for that approach has grown since the onset of COVID-19, reaching a supermajority (66%) in both the United States and European Union.
Click here to see the full poll, and sign up for the IBM Policy Lab newsletter for future studies:
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