Social Cost of Surveillance


This WP pursues two main objectives:

  • mapping and categorising present and incipient dangers directly or indirectly produced by surveillance systems for the individual and collective life of people;
  • generating new knowledge about people’s perception of the social costs of surveillance and on the socio-cultural factors influencing their perception.



Task 13.1. Mapping social costs connected with surveillance socio-technical systems

This task is geared to build up a map of the present and incipient social dangers related to the development and spreading of surveillance socio-technical systems.

The map should provide a typology of dangers based on the analysis of different variables such as:

  • kinds of socio-technical system(s) involved;
  • integration degree among technologies;
  • type of threats (e.g. privacy breaches; limited exercise of the right of expression, communication or information; social sorting and discrimination; limited access to goods and services; induced modification of personal behaviours such as self-censorship;  etc.);
  • incipient regimes aimed at controlling the threat (e.g. existing norms, technological solutions, good practices, etc.).

The mapping process will be carried out in the following steps:

  • carrying out of a trans-disciplinary literature review on surveillance socio-technical systems ;
  • drafting of a provisional Map of dangers and practices aimed at their control ;
  • on-line consultation of a group of experts (from 20 to 40) on the provisional Map;
  • drafting of the final version of the Map.

Task 13.2. Assessing people’s perception of social costs of surveillance

This task is aimed at generating new knowledge on the citizens’ perception on which are and how much serious are the social costs of surveillance in Europe. In particular, this task should enable to gather first-hand information on:

  • citizens’ level of knowledge, awareness and concern on the actual and potential dangers of surveillance socio-technical systems;
  • socio-cultural factors affecting their perception (be they linked to age, gender, religion, national culture, social position or openness to globalisation);
  • actions put in place (e.g. practices, behaviours, use of technological devises, etc.) to mitigate or prevent social costs.

The information gathering will be carried out mainly through the insertion of specific questions into the questionnaires/data collection instruments to be applied in WP11 and WP12.

However, other additional data and information sources on social perception of surveillance systems will be used, i.e.:

  • statistical information generated by Eurostat, OECD and other major statistical sources;
  • outputs of research programmes carried out in Europe or in other OECD countries on these issues;
  • scientific (published and grey) literature.

These additional sources will be chiefly used for correctly interpreting the outputs of both the quantitative and qualitative surveys (see task 13.3.).

For implementing the task, the following steps are provided for:

  • implementation of a full-immersion workshop of RESPECT consortium experts and selected invited experts to consider the Map developed in 13.1. in order to identify the key issues related to social costs of surveillance to be investigated under WP7 and WP8  and to prepare the questions to be inserted into the questionnaires/data collection instruments;
  • the actual drafting of these questions, in cooperation with the partners entrusted with WP11 and WP12;
  • carrying out of a second wave of literature review, statistical data gathering and collection of previous research on social perception of surveillance;
  • drafting of a scientific note on the outputs of the previous step.

Task 13.3. Analysing the results of quantitative and qualitative research

The results of the quantitative research would be considered by the core team entrusted with WP13. The resulting analysis would be incorporated into and inform the conclusions of the Final report on social costs of surveillance.