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Romance Scam Research Center

2023: Navigating Privacy and Data Safety: The Implications of Increased Online Activity among Older Adults Post-COVID-19 Induced Isolation

Alagood, John; Prybutok, Gayle; Prybutok, Victor R.  Information; Basel Vol. 14, Iss. 6, (2023): 346. DOI:10.3390/info14060346

Abstract: "The COVID-19 pandemic spurred older adults to use information and communication technology (ICT) for maintaining connections and engagement during social distancing. This trend raises concerns about privacy and data safety for older individuals with limited technical knowledge who have adopted ICT reluctantly and may be distinct in their susceptibility to scams, fraud, and identity theft. This paper highlights the gap in the literature regarding the increased privacy and data security risks for older adults adopting technology due to isolation during the pandemic (referred to here as quarantine technology initiates (QTIs)). A literature search informed by healthcare experts explored the intersection of older adults, data privacy, online activity, and COVID-19. A thin and geographically diverse literature was found to consider the risk profile of QTIs with the same lens as for older adults who adopted ICT before or independent of COVID-19 quarantines. The mentioned strategies to mitigate privacy risks were broad, including education, transaction monitoring, and the application of international regulatory models, but were undistinguished from those for non-QTI older adults. Future research should pursue the hypothesis that the risk profile of QTIs may differ in character from that of other older adults, referencing by analogy the nuanced distinctions quantified in credit risk scoring. Such studies would examine the primary data on privacy and data safety implications of hesitant ICT adoption by older adults, using COVID-19 as a natural experiment to identify and evaluate this vulnerable group."

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