Citizens’ Perspectives on Surveillance, Security and Privacy: Controversies, Alternatives and Solutions

Austrian Academy of Sciences
Dr. Ignaz Seipel-Platz 2, 1010 Vienna

This two-day conference is jointly organised by the EU FP7 research projects SurPRISE, PRISMS and PACT. The three projects aim at integrating the citizens’ perspective into the investigation of controversial topics such as surveillance, security and privacy.

Hence, this joint conference will offer a unique occasion to both present and discuss the results of the projects, but also to integrate them into a wider spectrum of social, academic and political debates. It will involve speakers from different scientific disciplines – social sciences, law, computer sciences, etc. – as well as practitioners – policy makers, NGOs, law enforcement officers, etc.




Recent revelations of mass surveillance programmes clearly demonstrate the ever-increasing capabilities of surveillance technologies. The lack of serious reactions to these activities shows that the political will to implement them appears to be an unbroken trend. The resulting move into a surveillance society is, however, contested for many reasons. Are the resulting infringements of privacy and other human rights compatible with democratic societies? Is security necessarily depending on surveillance? Are there alternative ways to frame security? Do surveillance technologies address the most pressing security needs, and if yes, are they the most efficient means to do so? Is it possible to gain in security by giving up civil liberties, or is it even necessary to do so? Do citizens adopt this trade-off and, if yes, are they willing to enter into this trade?

Three FP7 Security Research projects have addressed these and related questions, putting the perspective of European citizens in the very centre of the research focus. Major aims are to better understand the relation between surveillance, security and privacy, to inform policymaking and to support decision making with the gained insights. The revelation of practically unlimited surveillance activities of the NSA by Snowden, the rejection of the Data Retention Directive by the European Court of Justice or the recently adopted Opinion on Ethics of Security and Surveillance Technologies by the European Group on Ethics (EGE) are unambiguous signals that such decisions are urgently needed.

Relevant Topics

  • Citizens/Civil Society Organisations perspective on surveillance oriented security measures
  • Societal and technical controversies concerning the deployment of surveillance measures
  • Practices of contestation of surveillance measures
  • Transparency needs (and limits) in the use of surveillance technologies (intelligence services)
  • Limits of surveillance in democratic societies
  • Socio-technical alternatives to surveillance measures
  • Matching security needs of citizens and security measures
  • Responsible Research and Development for security technologies
  • Precautions to avoid abuse of security technologies
  • Privacy by Design for surveillance technologies
  • Regulation and legal control of surveillance technologies
  • Data retention after the ECJ ruling
  • Security beyond surveillance
  • Participatory decision making in security policies

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