Public Support for State Surveillance

44 Pages Posted: 9 Apr 2020

See all articles by Conrad Ziller

Conrad Ziller

University of Cologne

Marc Helbling

University of Bamberg

Date Written: March 18, 2020


Technological development has enabled governments to collect extensive data on citizens. This study examines citizens’ support for state surveillance, contingent upon factors related to policy design and the context of implementation. Results from survey experiments in four European countries show that citizens are ready to approve the introduction of far-reaching state surveillance that includes measures of facial recognition and motion detection. Public support is further enhanced if these measures are to be targeted at potential criminals, rather than at all citizens, as well as if a safety threat is salient. Concerns about data security reduce support. While these conditions matter for the support of specific policies, they do not influence how trustworthy citizens consider government and other political authorities to be.

Keywords: Surveillance, political support, terrorism, data security

Suggested Citation

Ziller, Conrad and Helbling, Marc, Public Support for State Surveillance (March 18, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Conrad Ziller (Contact Author)

University of Cologne ( email )

Albertus Magnus Platz
Cologne, 50923

Marc Helbling

University of Bamberg ( email )

Feldkirchenstrasse 21
Bamberg, 96045

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