User Perceptions of Security Risks Related to Contact Tracing Technologies

Presented by Hervé Saint-Louis as a part of the 2020 Serene-risc Workshop on The State of Canadian Cybersecurity Conference: Human-Centric Cybersecurity.

About the presentation

Researchers and industry have proposed cellphone-based contact tracing to help contain the spread of SARS-COV-2 virus in people during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the efficacy of contact tracing requires a certain threshold of participants and for people to enable specific access to communication ports on their mobile devices. Privacy and confidentiality concerns over users’ data on their personal devices have existed for years. Rightfully, industry watchdogs have raised concerns about the long-term consequences of contact tracing. As well questioning the potential confidentiality risks, privacy experts have also raised questions about whether contact tracing can curb the spread of the SARS-COV-2 virus. The uncertainty of this technology and pre-existing privacy concern could affect the adoption by the public.

It is unknown how people perceive their security regarding contact tracing during the Covid-19 pandemic. Do they differentiate between academic projects such as the DP3T and proposals such as Apple and Google’s joint decentralized contact tracing architecture? Are there concerns in random samples of individuals of contact tracing or are the security concerns localized with users with high levels of information security literacy?

This talk will present preliminary data exploring users’ perceptions of security risks related to cellular-based contact tracing.

About the speaker

Hervé Saint-Louis is assistant professor of emerging media at the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, in Canada. He researches human-computer interaction and information policy. He is also a cartoonist.