Journal article Open Access

Following Snowden Around the World: International Comparison of Attitudes to Snowden's Revelations about the NSA/GCHQ

Adams, A. A.; Murata, K.; Fukuta, Y.; Orito, Y.; Lara Palma, A. M.

Purpose A survey of the attitudes of students in eight countries towards the revelations of mass surveillance by the US' NSA and the UK's GCHQ has been described in an introductory paper and seven country-specific papers (The People's Republic of China and Taiwan are combined in a single paper). This paper presents a comparison of the results from these countries and draws conclusions about the similarities and differences noted. Design/methodology/approach A questionnaire was deployed in Germany, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the People's republic of China, Spain, Sweden, and Taiwan. The original survey was in English, translated into German, Japanese and Chinese for relevant countries. The survey consists of a combination of likert scale, yes/no, and free-text responses. The results are quantitatively analysed using appropriate statistical tools and the qualitative answers are interpreted (including, where appropriate, consolidated into quantitative results). Findings There are significant differences between respondents in the countries surveyed with respect to their general privacy attitudes and their willingness to follow Snowden's lead, even where they believe his actions served the public good. Research limitations/implications Due to resource limitations, only university students were surveyed. In some countries (Germany and New Zealand) the relatively small number of respondents limits the ability to make meaningful statistical comparisons between respondents from those countries and from elsewhere on some issues. Social implications Snowden's actions are generally seen as laudable and having had positive results, among the respondents surveyed. Such results should give pause to governments seeking to expand mass surveillance by government entities. Originality/value There have been few surveys regarding attitudes to Snowden's revelations, despite the significant press attention and political actions that have flowed from it. The context of attitudes to both the actions he revealed and the act of revelation itself is useful in constructing political and philosophical arguments about the balance between surveillance activity for state security and the privacy of individual citizens. This record was migrated from the OpenDepot repository service in June, 2017 before shutting down.

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