Are Americans Changing Their Views on Privacy After the Pandemic? 

One of our specialties here at Spectra Networks is dealing with the IT digital issues of compliance and security, specifically within the healthcare and dental fields. We help our clients maintain the highest levels of security as required by privacy laws such as HIPAA. 

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The Pandemic’s Impact on Privacy 

In the past few months we have witnessed medical and dental practices shift gears entirely to accommodating patients using telehealth visits that are safely completed on secure networks within the privacy of their own homes. These “visits” with patients have been a major lifesaver when it comes to being able to contact medical and dental professionals in the middle of a pandemic.  We have also heard reports by government groups using contact tracing to determine who potentially could be at risk for exposure to the coronavirus. This method of contacting high risk exposures has been around for years but now could possibly utilize the GPS and phone tracking to determine places where a covid-19 positive patient visited which would give access to others who were potentially exposed.  All of these things bring into question the amount of privacy Americans are willing to sacrifice in order to protect the health and wellbeing of our citizens. It also poses the question about where privacy policies may be headed in regard to situations of national health. 

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American Views of Privacy

Over the past year, the Pew Research Center has surveyed Americans on their views related to privacy, personal data and digital surveillance. Some of the key takeaways may be surprising.  About seven-in-ten Americans (72%) believe that all, almost all, or at least most of what they do online or while using a cellphone is being tracked by advertisers, technology firms, or other companies, according to a June 2019 survey. While most of the study stated that they were concerned by the tracking of personal information online, they felt a lack of control over what they could do or how to protect the information.  The same Pew Research Study showed that most Americans say they do not understand current privacy laws and regulations, but most favor more government regulation in this area. Approximately 50% of Americans say they often think twice about using products they see as having privacy issues. A minority of Americans believe that rolling back privacy rights and allowing phone tracking in instances of a pandemic would help reduce the number of covid-19 cases in America. In fact, six-in-ten Americans say that if the government tracked people’s locations through their cell phone, it wouldn’t make much of a difference in limiting the spread of COVID-19.  As IT privacy and security professionals, we would love to hear from our readers on how your company is dealing with privacy issues and where you believe the line should be drawn. Drop us a line in the comments or see our posts on Facebook to continue the discussion.