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New Study: “State Surveillance – Exploiting Fear during the 2020 Pandemic Crisis?”

During the current corona crisis, shops are closed, events are canceled, trade is reduced, and people are asked to stay at home. In almost all Western democracies, governments restricted basic civil rights, though little protest resulted.

In a pandemic crisis, different rules seem to apply—but do different rules apply even for data protection? Governmental data collection measures are currently discussed and implemented without having been discussed preventively in case of a crisis. The timing of these measures may be ethically problematic, because individual preferences and decisions change when people feel fear.

In an online study with 1,156 respondents during the outbreak of the crisis in Germany, Kirsten Hillebrand, PhD student at the Professorship for Business Administration, in particular Financial Services and Financial Technology, investigated German citizens’ consent to voluntary location-data disclosure and state surveillance and what drives their consent in order to control the COVID-19 virus. Results show that (1) fear increases consent to voluntary data disclosure, and (2) fear increases consent to state surveillance directly and indirectly by fostering general distrust in others. Further studies on government measures and the willingness to share data are currently being prepared.

The study can be downloaded here:


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