Surveillance, privacy and security: SurPRISE evaluates the acceptance of security technologies among Europe's citizens

The use of security technologies in Europe is on the raise. But what does the public think about the trade-off between privacy and safety?

Do we need to accept infringements of privacy and other fundamental liberties for more security? At least for European policy makers the answer appears to be a clear yes. The SurPRISE project conducted a critical examination of the relation between security and privacy, putting the citizens’ perspective into the centre of analysis.

SurPRISE explored and questioned in how far intrusions of our privacy are really necessary to achieve a higher level of security. For politicians and scientists the fact that more security often means less privacy is a natural trade-off. Hence we simply would have to accept that this curtails our basic right to privacy. But what if the technologies themselves pose a security risk for our democratic society? The project aimed at finding alternatives that leave our basic rights untouched.

Citizens helped to develop recommendations

In a further step, the conclusions of this analysis were discussed in substantial participatory activities involving more than 2500 citizens from nine European countries. Questions asked included how far the public agrees with this “trade-off” of privacy for security, and what other factors influence public opinion on the subject.

Based on the results of the research SurPRISE developed recommendations for security measure and technologies, aiming to contribute to formulating future security policy consistent with basic rights. The project, coordinated by ITA, was a collaboration between eleven partner organisations such as science academies, data privacy protection agencies, private and public research institutions, institutes of technology assessment and universities.



  • Schlehahn, E., Hansen, M., Sterbik-Lamina, J., & Samaniego, J. S. (2013). Report on surveillance technology and privacy enhancing design. FP7 Project SurPRISE (p. 89). Retrieved from
  • Engberg, N., Gram, S., & Strauß, S. (2013). Plan for involving users and stakeholders. Deliverable 1.2 of the SurPRISE project.
  • Čas, J. (2012). SurPRISE & IRISS: Zwei neue EU-Projekte zum Thema Überwachung, Privatsphäre und Sicherheit. Ita-Newsletter, 2 f.Retrieved from

Conference Papers/Speeches

Conference Papers/Speeches

  • 20/06/2016 , London
    Stefan Strauß: 
    Trading privacy for security – a rebounding horse trade?
    Science/Technology/Security: Challenges to Global Governance?, University College London, 20-21 June 2016
  • 06/10/2015 , Wien
    Johann Cas: 
    Drohnen – TA-Perspektiven
    UAV SIFO Workshop
  • 17/09/2015 , Wien
    Walter Peissl: 
    Achtung der Privatsphäre – oder warum Datenschutz alleine zu wenig ist. Impulsreferat zum WS IV: Digitale Nutzerrechte im Kontext kommerzieller Überwachung
    IGF 2015
  • 16/09/2015 , Berlin
    Johann Cas,  Jaro Krieger-Lamina: 
    Resolving the Privacy/Security Trade-Off – Contributions from participatory Involvement of Citizens in the SurPRISE Project
    10th Future Security Conference
  • 02/09/2015 , Glasgow
    Walter Peissl: 
    Big Data and privacy in a networked world: the perspective from technology assessment
    EPIP Conference 2015
  • 18/06/2015 , Warsaw
    Johann Cas: 
    Statement at the Panel Discussion 'Incorporating the Societal Perspective into a New Border Control Paradigm'
    Global Conference on the Future of Border Checks 2015
  • 30/04/2015 , Warsaw
    Johann Cas: 
    Citizens´ perspective on surveillance, privacy and security – implications for border security technologies
    Frontex Workshop on the use of border security technologies and the implications on the privacy, ethics and data protection/fundamental rights of people crossing the borders
  • 20/03/2015 , Vienna
    Stefan Strauß: 
    Main results of D6.10 – Citizen summits on Privacy, Security and Surveillance – Synthesis report.
    Final review meeting of the SurPRISE project
  • 14/11/2014
    Stefan Strauß: 
    Privacy vs. security - a given tradeoff?
    Joint conference on SurPRISE, PRISMS and PACT: Citizens' Perspectives on Surveillance, Security and Privacy: Controversies, Alternatives and Solutions.
  • 13/11/2014 , Vienna
    Johann Cas: 
    Key findings of the SurPRISE project
    Joint conference of SurPRISE, PRISMS and PACT
  • 17/09/2014 , Torun
    Stefan Strauß: 
    Mass surveillance within the tides of securitization?
    European Association for the study of science, society and technology - EASST 2014 conference, Track I2: Big brother - big data, September 17-19
  • 21/05/2014 , Wien
    Johann Cas: 
    Statement am Podium
    Talk Gate: BIG DATA – Ende der Privatsphäre?
  • 17/02/2014
    Johann Cas,  Stefan Strauß: 
    Einführung und Ablaufbeschreibung des SurPRISE BürgerInnen-Forums
    Briefing-Workshop Tischmoderation für das SurPRISE BürgerInnen-Forum
  • 04/06/2013 , Wien
    Johann Cas: 
    FP7 Security Research – Meeting current societal security needs or vested interest of the security industry?
  • 03/06/2013 , Wien
    Stefan Strauß: 
    Sicherheitspolitik als Moving Target? – Im Fahrwasser der "Securitization"
    TA'13 - Sicherheit als Technik - 13. Österreichische Konferenz zu Technikfolgen-abschätzung
  • 23/05/2013 , Wien
    Walter Peissl: 
    Statement und Diskussion
    q/Talk special: Datenschutzgrundverordnung – EU vor Einigung
  • 16/04/2013 , Brussels
    Johann Cas: 
    Surveillance and security technologies – A multilevel approach to ethical and societal implications
    26th Meeting of the European Group on Ethics in Science and new Technologies (EGE)
  • 27/09/2012 , Wien
    Walter Peissl: 
    Privacy by Design – Vom Konzept zur Umsetzung
    Europa-Tagung 'Von Jägern, Sammlern und Piraten' – Datenschutz, Neue Medien und Technologien in der Europäischen Union
  • 1


02/2012 - 01/2015

Project team


This project has received funding from the European Union´s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no. 285492.