Privacy, Adoption, and Truthful Reporting: A Simple Theory of Contact Tracing Applications

13 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2020 Last revised: 24 Nov 2020

See all articles by Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye

Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye

Imperial College London - Department of Computing

Tarun Ramadorai

Imperial College London; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Tommaso M. Valletti

Imperial College Business School; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Ansgar Walther

Imperial College London

Date Written: November 20, 2020

Abstract

This short paper analyses the trade-offs associated with the deployment of contact tracing applications to support policy responses in the pandemic. In many jurisdictions, the government cannot force individuals to adopt such applications. We therefore analyze a simple model that highlights the importance of individuals' incentives to voluntarily adopt a reporting application and reveal their infection status to the government who can then undertake contact monitoring. We discuss the consequences of various policy options, such as security, communication and anonymisation policies, in terms of the size and representativeness of the sample of infection data that contract tracing applications generate.

Keywords: pandemic, COVID-19, coronavirus, contact tracing, privacy, truthful reporting, public health

JEL Classification: D1, D8, I1

Suggested Citation

de Montjoye, Yves-Alexandre and Ramadorai, Tarun and Valletti, Tommaso M. and Walther, Ansgar, Privacy, Adoption, and Truthful Reporting: A Simple Theory of Contact Tracing Applications (November 20, 2020). Economics Letters, Forthcoming , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3689552 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3689552

Yves-Alexandre De Montjoye

Imperial College London - Department of Computing ( email )

180 Queen's Gate
London, SW7 2AZ
United Kingdom

Tarun Ramadorai (Contact Author)

Imperial College London ( email )

South Kensington Campus
Exhibition Road
London, Greater London SW7 2AZ
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.tarunramadorai.com

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) ( email )

c/o the Royal Academies of Belgium
Rue Ducale 1 Hertogsstraat
1000 Brussels
Belgium

Tommaso M. Valletti

Imperial College Business School ( email )

South Kensington Campus
Exhibition Road
London SW7 2AZ, SW7 2AZ
United Kingdom

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Ansgar Walther

Imperial College London ( email )

South Kensington Campus
Exhibition Road
London, Greater London SW7 2AZ
United Kingdom

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