Cover: Public Perception of Security and Privacy

Public Perception of Security and Privacy

Results of the comprehensive analysis of PACT's pan-European Survey

Published Jan 27, 2015

by Sunil Patil, Bhanu Patruni, Hui Lu, Fay Dunkerley, James Fox, Dimitris Potoglou, Neil Robinson

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This study reports public preferences for security, surveillance and privacy across 27 European Member States measured using a stated preference survey. It focuses on three real life contexts: train/metro travel, internet use and storage of health records — each exploring different dimensions of privacy.

Over 26,000 responses were collected using internet and face-to-face surveys in autumn of 2013. The questionnaire included questions on respondent's demographics, questions measuring trust in institutions, general distrust, and attitudes to risk taking. Depending on familiarity to travel by train/metro and internet, each respondent was presented with five stated preference questions from two out three of the above mentioned contexts. The stated preference experiments were designed to understand preferences relating to surveillance, amount of data collected, access to data, storage of data, and cost of security, surveillance and data handling. In the travel context experiment also collected preferences for presence and type of security personnel and physical security checks. Preferences in all three contexts were analysed using discrete choice modelling.

Clear differences in preferences for privacy, security and surveillance are found, depending on the context. The study finds that preferences for security and privacy are surprisingly consistent across the EU. Attitudes and demographic characteristics also influence preferences. This study which is one of the largest applications of discrete choice modelling in this domain, provides an important missing element on public perceptions to the debate on security and privacy.

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This study has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme. The research was conducted by RAND Europe.

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