COVID-19 Data Analysis-4.7 (Data Transparency/Data Privacy) print   
joongmin  Email [2020-08-31 16:12:03]  HIT : 76  

Preference between Data Transparency and Data Privacy during the COVID-19


1.    Background

With the COVID-19 outbreak, many countries have been making contact trace data public to fight against the virus, which has led to public concerns about people’s right to privacy. On January 26th, 2020, the third confirmed patient of coronavirus infection in South Korea was identified. Accordingly, his movement history was revealed to the public to make people with whom he had contact self-monitor, which was a decision made by the South Korean government to prevent a further spread of the virus. However, after revealing his movement history, his affair rumored around, and the patient was told to have suffered from severe insomnia and anxiety, according to a hospital official. There do have advantages on containing the COVID-19 epidemics, however, non-institutionalized contact tracing may result in violating citizens’ privacy and their basic rights.


2.    Research Topic

In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is of importance to balance the public health and private rights, and it is a government duty to make appropriate health policies to satisfy its people. This section will analyze how global citizens see data transparency and data privacy and will look at if there is a general trend around the globe amid the crisis.


3.    Questionnaire Used

Survey Question II-3: “The options below show two divergent opinions about how to respond to the recent state of emergency. On a scale from 1-10, please identify the point you feel most closely matches your opinion. Revealing the movement history of infected people in detail is essential for the safety of society. It is completely wrong to treat infected people like public enemies.”

The answers consist of a 10-point scale, with higher scores indicating an individual who emphasizes more on citizens’ privacy and lower scores demonstrating a person who underlines the importance of contact tracing.


4.    Major Outcomes

Table 1: Data Privacy Index (DPI) and Data Transparency Index (DTI)
by Citizens of 30 Global Cities


Respondents are asked to choose one score to represent their ideas on the question, and the average scores of each city indicate the Data Privacy Index (DPI). It demonstrates that citizens of a city consider protecting personal rights to privacy important even amid the crisis, and the higher the score is, the more and individuals think highly of the citizens’ privacy. Meanwhile, the reverse scaling was used in the Data Transparency Index (DTI), which means that 11 minus DPI is the Data Transparency Index (DTI). Similarly, the higher the DTI score is, the more a citizen highlights the government’s decision to open the contact tracing to the public. Finally, the numerical differences between the two scores were calculated in order to show which side a city is putting more significance. To illustrate, the lower a numerical difference is, the more citizens of the city underscore data privacy in the course of the pandemic crisis.

Table 2: Average Data Privacy Index (DPI) by Region


Average Data Privacy Index (1 – 10)

East Asia


Southeast/South Asia


North America




Latin America





The scores in the table are the average Data Privacy Index (CQI) of the global citizens by region. To be specific, the lowest score of 5.03 was rated by East Asian citizens on average. It exhibits that people in this region tend to deem that the contact tracing instead of citizens’ privacy is more vital at a time of crisis. On the contrary, the highest score of 5.90 was rated by Latin American citizens, which illustrates that people here highlight the most on citizens’ rights and privacy.

Figure 1: Bar Graph of Average Data Privacy Index (DPI) by Region


Figure 1 is the visualized graph of Table 2, and the orange line is the world average Data Privacy Index (CQI). That Latin American and European citizens think highly of the citizens’ privacy is evidenced by the figure. On the other hand, revealing the specific information on the history of movements of individuals infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus is highly emphasized by East Asian citizens, followed by South/Southeast Asian, Oceanian, and North American people. For further detailed analysis, let’s see each city’s score of CQI and GQI.

Figure 2: Line Graph of Data Privacy Index (DPI) and Data Transparency Index (DTI)


This figure is a visualized version of Table 1, and the most outstanding finding of Figure 2 is that South Korea, represented by Seoul and Daegu, shows a huge gap between protecting citizens’ privacy and making contact tracing data public. It means that South Korean citizens generally regard that data transparency and openness as vital facing COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, other cities are holding divergent opinions regarding data transparency and data privacy.

Figure 3: Bar Graph of Numerical Difference between Data Privacy Index (DPI) and Data Transparency Index (DTI)


The differences between DTIs and DPIs are drawn as a bar graph, shown in Figure 3. The orange bar indicates the global average difference score (0.00). Cities with negative numerical differences are marked with red bars, indicating citizens of that city prefer guarding citizens’ privacy; yet, cities with blue bars express that revealing the movement history is crucial to overcome the coronavirus. As shown in Figure 3, all East Asian and Oceanian cities think highly of the epidemiological investigation of infectious people, while all Latin Americans are laying stress on people’s privacy rather than revealing patients’ movement history. Finally, European, North American, and South/Southeast Asian citizens are presenting various points of view.


5.    Summaries and Further Tasks

a.     Data analysis shows contradicting views on data transparency and data privacy by global citizens.

b.     East Asian, Oceanian, South/Southeast Asian (Manila, New Delhi), European (Rome), North American (Los Angeles, Toronto) prioritize the revealing the information of contact tracing during the crisis since the numeric difference scores of Data Transparency (DTI) and Data Privacy Index (DPI) are positive. On the other hand, Latin American, European (except Rome), North American (New York), Southeast Asia (Jakarta) prefer protecting the privacy, since the numeric difference scores of the two indexes are negative.

c.     European and Latin American average DPIs are higher than the global average, indicating these regions are more accenting on data privacy even amid the crisis.

d.     The study is limited to descriptive research, and therefore, a more detailed explanative investigation is required to further understand the global citizens’ consciousness presented above. For instance, why citizens in South Korea highly advocate contact tracing other than other cities in the world? What factors made Latin America and Europe put emphasis on citizens’ privacy?

     75. Survey on Citizens in 30 Global Cities (The Second Media Briefing on COVID-19 Survey)