Project «SurPRISE – Surveillance, Privacy and Security: A large scale participatory assessment of criteria and factors determining acceptability and acceptance of security technologies in Europe»
SurPRISE : A study of surveillance, protection of privacy and security
SurPRISE is a European project which aims to identify the needs of citizens with regard to security, and to determine the extent to which and under what conditions they are prepared to surrender some elements of their privacy for the sake of surveillance technologies. While politicians and scientists seem to regard it as acceptable that greater security is achieved at the expense of fundamental rights, the SurPRISE project looks at how far citizens share this conception and if other elements come into the equation, such as cultural or social factors.
Eleven partners from the academic sector and from the field of Technology Assessment are taking part in this project. The Institut für Technikfolgen-Abschätzung (ITA), an Austrian technology assessment organisation, is coordinating the work. Within the framework of this project, TA-SWISS will organise a citizens’ consultation in 2013. An identical consultation will take place simultaneously in other European countries represented in the SurPRISE project.
Opportunities and risks of surveillance technologies
The spread of surveillance technologies is constant. As they become more effective they can combat the growth of petty crime, terrorism, cybercrime and tax fraud. Advances in the IT field, as well as in the areas of reconnaissance and biometrics, mean that technologies can be perfected, constantly pushing back the limits of the fight against crime. But these technologies can also pose a threat to the privacy of individuals, especially as they apply pre-emptively to everyone. Governments are therefore compelled to find a balance between the legitimate security needs of society on the one hand and the right of individuals to privacy on the other. It is an exercise which calls for a complex weighing up of interests and which involves many different factors.
Why TA-SWISS is participating in the «SurPRISE» project
In Switzerland, surveillance technologies and the related question of privacy protection are highly debated. One thinks in particular of the ongoing discussions about video surveillance, employed by numerous organisations in the public and the private sector. The introduction of the biometric passport has also given rise to serious controversy, and has underlined the international dimension of security issues. Cybercrime is another concern, and network surveillance is becoming a crucial element of national security.
The SurPRISE project plans to organise citizen consultations in nine European countries focussing on how individuals regard the tensions that might exist between surveillance technologies on the one hand and protection of privacy on the other. By taking part in such a project, TA-SWISS hopes to contribute to the political debate in Switzerland surrounding security policies by analysing the conditions under which Swiss citizens are prepared to accept the use of surveillance methods, and to what extent the debate surrounding questions about surveillance, private and security corresponds to that in other European countries.
Objectives of the project
The SurPRISE project is concerned with the relationship that exists between security and privacy, which is most frequently presented as a trade-off. While most policies, laws and directives concerning surveillance technologies adopt the view that citizens agree to surrendering some of their privacy in exchange for greater security, the project aims to refine understanding of the factors for acceptability of surveillance solutions.
Its objectives can be summed up as follows:
- To examine the extent to which the trade off approach between security and privacy influences the level of acceptance or rejection of surveillance technologies
- To establish whether alternative factors also influence the level of acceptance or rejection of security technologies
- To present the understanding that European citizens have of laws guaranteeing the protection of data and their implementation.
- To produce a basis for decisions which will enable experts and decision makers to evaluate the acceptability of surveillance technologies in a more sophisticated and complex fashion than the method based on the trade off approach.
At the heart of the SurPRISE project is a major consultation with citizens spread across a number of European countries. Between 200 and 300 participants will meet simultaneously in nine countries. They will be asked to express their points of view on the surveillance technologies currently in use or being set up, with the ultimate objective of making them aware of the tensions that might exist between security and protection of privacy. Before that, the partners in the SurPRISE project will have provided a theoretical and analytical work to create a framework for the citizens’ discussions. An information pack (video, documents) will also be produced for the citizens taking part in the consultations.
Each of the citizen discussions will form the subject of a report. The results of the national discussions will then be compared with the aim of identifying possible differences or similarities between the countries. These analyses shall enable guiding principles and recommendations to be drawn up which are likely to encourage research in security and security policies that are compatible with basic rights and European democratic values.
Start of the project: February 2012 | End of the project: January 2015
Results and downloads
Institute of Technology Assessment-ITA. Johan Cas,+firstname.lastname@example.org ( E-mail)
Persons of TA-SWISS involved in the project
- Dr. Danielle Bütschi, TA-SWISS, Project manager. email@example.com (E-mail)
- Dr. Sergio Bellucci, TA-SWISS. firstname.lastname@example.org (E-mail)
- Dilini-Sylvie Jeanneret, TA-SWISS. +email@example.com (E-mail)
Some of the institutions participating in the project
- Austrian Academy of Sciences (OEAW), Institute of Technology Assessment (ITA), Austria
- Agencia de Proteccion de Datos de la Comunidad de Madrid (APDCM), Spain
- Agencia Estatal Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (CSIC), Spain
- Teknologiradet-The Danish Board of Technology (DBT), Denmark
- European University Institute (EUI), Italian
- Verein für Rechts und Kriminalsoziologie (IRKS), Austria
- Mediàn Opinion and Market Research Limited Company, Ungary
- Teknologiradet-The Norwegian Board of Technologie (NBT), Norway
- Open University (OU), United Kingdom
- Unabhängiges Landeszentrum für Datenschutz (ULD), Germany
CH-3011 Bern T + 41 31 310 99 60
F + 41 31 310 99 61
The project in brief
The SurPRISE project is concerned with the tensions which might exist between the duty of governments to guarantee territorial and personal security, on the one hand, and people’s right to have their privacy respected on the other. The project asks whether citizens are prepared to accept a trade-off between security and privacy, or whether there are other factors involved in their estimation of surveillance technologies. Consultations with citizens will be organised in a number of European countries and the results thus obtained will enable guiding principles and recommendations to be drawn up for solutions and security policies that are compatible with the right of individuals to privacy. The project involves eleven European partners and is financed by the European Union.
Project: 02.2012 - 01.2015
Publications: Reports, working documents
Dr Sergio Bellucci , Dr Danielle Bütschi, Dilini-Sylvie Jeanneret