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Tools to better measure public perception of security and privacy

An EU initiative assessed public perceptions of the relationship between security and privacy in order to generate input for future policymaking.

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Privacy and data protection are fundamental rights that play a crucial role in contemporary democratic societies. Thus the use of surveillance technology walks a fine line regarding public trust and concerns for privacy, on the one hand, and perceptions of security needs, on the other. The EU-funded PACT (Public perception of security and privacy: Assessing knowledge, collecting evidence, translating research into action) set out to assist end users and policymakers in taking privacy and societal factors into consideration when they evaluate security measures. Work began with an assessment of existing knowledge about the link between security and privacy and the role played by trust and concern. About 27 000 citizens from 27 Member States were interviewed as part of a pan-European survey on public perception concerning the relationship between privacy, fundamental rights and security. Project partners then analysed the key factors that influence public assessment of the security and privacy implications of a given security technology. The PACT team developed a privacy framework using the results from the mapping exercise, survey and analysis. It incorporates privacy, ethical and social considerations into security policies. The framework also includes a decision support system that enables end users to evaluate advantages and disadvantages of the impact of future security technology investments and deployment in terms of privacy, ethics, social acceptance and public perception. Results were featured in 30 scientific publications and 54 academic talks. PACT gathered a broad range of European experts and the general public in developing a new reference framework to evaluate security technology investment within a larger societal and cultural context. It furthered the security-privacy debate for all concerned, from policymakers and crisis managers to citizens.


Public perception, security, privacy, PACT, security technology

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