Press Release
Press Majority of Germans willing to sacrifice their privacy during the Corona crisis

Majority of Germans willing to sacrifice their privacy during the Corona crisis

Mar 13, 2020
Press Release

Munich, March 13, 2020 – One would think that data protection is sacred to Germans! But, in times of crisis, such as currently during the Corona pandemic, the majority of Germans are willing to accept significant infringements of their privacy in order to combat the virus. This is the result of a representative survey conducted by the privacy software company Usercentrics in cooperation with the market research institute INNOFACT among 1,020 Germans between the age of 18 and 69. 

The poll demonstrates clearly: Germans would accept significant infringements of their privacy amidst the corona crisis – and this consistently across all age groups. For example, 63.8 percent said they would give up their personal privacy to protect themselves or others from the virus. More specifically, 71.9 percent of Germans would voluntarily share personal health data, movement profiles or social contact points with public institutions such as the Robert Koch Institute.

60.4 percent would voluntarily share personal data such as email, telephone number or places of residence with responsible authorities in order to be informed of risks in advance. 

More than half (54.6 percent) of the Germans would allow public authorities to use the personal movement profile to track the spread of the virus, and a full 69.5 percent are in favor of expanding the retention of travel data in order to be notified in case of a suspected virus case or to restrict the virus from spreading.

Particularly surprising: around 66.8 percent would even agree to be registered in a public database as an infected person in order to warn others who have been in contact with them. Germans remain skeptical only when it comes to social media: Only 39.9 percent would share their social media profile data.

Lisa Gradow, Co-Founder of Usercentrics: “If the government and authorities decide to use data-driven measures to combat the Coronavirus, the consent of those affected must be obtained compliantly. Without GDPR-compliant consent, it would currently be prohibited, for example, to track and analyze mobile phone data and especially the movement profile of infected persons. However, this would be possible with a consent which is given voluntarily, informed, explicitly and specifically. However, it is important that the person concerned must still have the possibility of withdrawing his or her consent at any time. The use of the data would be limited to this one purpose and could not be extended to other issues. So it would not open a “Pandora’s box”.

Mischa Rürup, Founder and CEO of Usercentrics: “The results of our survey clearly show that the majority of the population has recognized the seriousness of the situation and agrees to the use of data for their own protection and the protection of others. Politicians should recognize this support and quickly introduce digital measures to develop a data-driven approach in the fight against Corona virus. The conscious and informed consent of the affected person plays a central role here. This will ultimately save lives.”

About the survey: IIn March 2020, 1,020 Germans (506 men and 514 women) aged between 18 and 69 years were interviewed by the market research institute INNOFACT on behalf of Usercentrics in a representative survey. 20.2 percent of the participants were between 18 and 29 years old, 18.5 percent between 30 and 39, 20.2 percent between 40 and 49, 24 percent between 50 and 59 and 17.1 percent between 60 and 69.