Journal article Open Access

Ripples Down Under: New Zealand Youngsters' Attitudes and Conduct After Snowden

Gunasekara, G.; Adams, A. A.; Murata, K.

Purpose – This study tests the attitudes towards and social consequences of Edward Snowden's revelations in New Zealand, taking into account New Zealand's socio-cultural and political environment especially as regards privacy and state surveillance. Design/methodology/approach – A questionnaire survey of 66 university students and semi-structured follow-up interviews with 18 respondents were conducted, in addition to reviews of the literature on privacy and state surveillance in New Zealand. The outcomes of the survey were statistically analysed and qualitative analyses of the interview results were also performed. Findings – Despite a lack of detailed knowledge concerning Snowden's revelations and a relative lack of knowledge of domestic law enforcement agencies as well as those devoted to protecting human rights and privacy, the revelations have had a noticeable effect on New Zealand youngsters' attitudes toward privacy and state surveillance, mainly evidenced in their willingness to emulate Snowden's actions and in their changed online behaviour thereby demonstrating a chilling effect. Practical implications – The study results suggest younger New Zealanders are aware of and concerned with their privacy and also that the Government should better publicise the existing mechanisms for protecting human rights and privacy as well as for whistle-blowing by individuals to give effect to the aspirations of younger citizens in particular. Social implications – The results of this study based on a questionnaire survey indicates that state surveillance and other threats to privacy are issues of concern to younger New Zealanders and that better public education is needed as to the mechanisms that are available for citizens to protect their privacy and human rights. Originality/value – This study is the first attempt to investigate the social impact of Snowden's revelations on New Zealand youngsters' attitudes toward privacy and state surveillance as part of cross-cultural analyses between eight countries. This record was migrated from the OpenDepot repository service in June, 2017 before shutting down.

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