The aim of running this survey was to get and idea of peoples views in relation to government surveillance and test the following hypothesis; people are willing to give up a degree of privacy and liberty for a reduced price on a mobile phone. I managed to collect 44 responses to the survey in the time and with the means that were available.In the analysis of the results I will attempt to spot trends in the views of different groups of people in relation to generation and their level of familiarity with technology. I will also address the comments in order to further gain insight into the views of people towards surveillance and ways in which they think it could be changed and improved.Familiarity with TechnologyThe analysis of results for this section assumes that people’s willingness to purchase a device which the government has access to is a proxy for their support of government surveillance. The graph above shows the percentage of people at each level of technological familiarities willingness to purchase a mobile phone which the government has full read access to. From the graph above we can deduce that the less familiar people are with technology the more apprehensive and sceptical of surveillance they are and therefore would be less likely to purchase a phone that the government has access to. From this we can also deduce that in relation to the wider issue of government surveillance, people who are less familiar with technology are more sceptical of mass electronic surveillance schemes.
Initially this would seem quite strange as people who are more familiar with technology are more likely to know and care about the negative consequences of surveillance and be more opposed to it than people who know less. In this case the opposite has happened and people who are more familiar with technology are more willing to purchase a device that the government had access to and are less likely to have as definite and anti surveillance points of view. As one respondee that put down ‘agree’ pointed out ‘I feel that the government already has access to my phone (if need be), so paying less for the phone in that aspect is attractive’. Also nobody who responded ‘neutral’ provided any comments regarding the final question on personal devices which and scarcely provided any comments for other questions.
These prove my previous point about people who are more familiar with technology having different views but instead of what I hypothesised, they are apparently less against the idea of mass surveillance than people who are less familiar with technology. CommentsThe overall sentiment from the comments left by participants of the survey is that the current state of government surveillance and the powers of intelligence agencies is disproportionate and unnecessary. There was an overall idea that current surveillance schemes within intelligence agencies is not receiving proper oversight and clear guidelines. In response to questions regarding access to electronic devices participants said “with the right safeguards in place” and that “fishing for data is definitely wrong”. One participant picked up on the idea of some types of metadata being acceptable to collect on an individual “as long as there is reasonable suspicion”.On the topic of their powers regarding surveillance respondents said that “they already have the legal basis to do whatever they want” and that they “already have too much power as it is”.
Despite this, a lot of the participants did not have a problem with the intelligence agencies demanding information on specific customers from technology companies but only with a warrant. One participant said that the government are ill educated on recent technology and implied that for their schemes to be more effective and liberal they should be more open minded and listen to ideas others have to offer.