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Unconsented Data Transfusions: Attitudes Towards Extracting Personal Device Data for Public Health Emergencies

Lookup NU author(s): Colin WatsonORCiD, Dr Jan SmeddinckORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of a conference proceedings (inc. abstract) that has been published in its final definitive form by ACM, 2020.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


Despite privacy and security concerns, personal data on smartphones could be of beneficial use to society, for example during national emergencies. User attitudes were collected through a small focus group approach to reveal what citizens’ opinions may be towards extraction of medical data in the event of a public health incident. Thematic analysis revealed four themes with an overarching theme of “my phone is part of my body”. This small-scale proof of concept study established individuals view smartphones akin to organs or limbs, where forced access, without consent, is assault. They consider the benefits to society of unconsented access to medical and other personal data on mobile devices must be overwhelming before such acquisition is considered acceptable. #e analysis also points to the difficulty of gaining consent, a lack of knowledge about legal aspects, and a distrust about the state collecting data.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Watson C, Smeddinck JD

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: Mensch und Computer 2020

Year of Conference: 2020

Pages: 205-209

Online publication date: 09/09/2020

Acceptance date: 31/07/2020

Date deposited: 25/08/2020

Publisher: ACM


DOI: 10.1145/3404983.3409994

Notes: 5 pages.

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9781450375405/20/09