Understanding the perceptions of UK COVID-19 contact tracing app in the BAME community in Leicester




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Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society



Peer reviewed



Purpose – Digital contact tracing technologies are critical to the fight against COVID-19 in many countries including the UK. However, a number of ethical, legal and socio-economic concerns that can affect uptake of the app have been raised. The purpose of this research is to explore the perceptions of the UK digital contact tracing app in the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) community in Leicester and how this can affect its deployment and implementation.

Design/methodology/approach – Data was collected through virtual focus groups in Leicester, UK. A total of 28 participants were recruited for the study. All participants are members of the BAME community, and data was thematically analysed with NVivo 11.

Findings – A majority of the participants were unwilling to download and use the app owing to legal and ethical concerns. A minority were willing to use the app based on the need to protect public health. There was a general understanding that lack of uptake will negatively affect the fight against COVID-19 in BAME communities and an acknowledgement of the need for the government to rebuild trust through transparency and development of regulatory safeguards to enhance privacy and prevent misuse.

Originality/value – To the best of the authors’ knowledge, the research makes original contributions being the first robust study conducted to explore perceptions of marginalised communities, particularly BAME which may be adversely impacted by the deployment of the app. By exploring community-based perceptions, this study further contributes to the emerging citizens’ perceptions on digital contact tracing which is crucial to the effectiveness and the development of an efficient, community-specific response to public attitudes towards the app. The findings can also help the development of responsible innovation approaches that balances the competing interests of digital health interventions with the needs and expectations of the BAME community in the UK.


This work was supported by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Human Brain Project Framework Programme for Research and Innovation under the Specific Grant Agreement No. 945539 (HBP SGA3). This work was also supported by De Montfort University COVID-19 Special Research Fund. Open access article


Privacy, Public health, COVID-19, Data protection, Contact tracing, BAME in the UK


Akintoye, S., Ogoh, G., Krokida, Z., Nnadi, J. and Eke, D. (2021) Understanding the perceptions of UK COVID-19 contact tracing app in the BAME community in Leicester. Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, 19 (4), pp. 521-536


Research Institute

Centre for Law, Justice and Society