Public Support for State Surveillance

European Journal of Political Research, Forthcoming

52 Pages Posted: 9 Apr 2020 Last revised: 6 Nov 2020

See all articles by Conrad Ziller

Conrad Ziller

University of Duisburg-Essen

Marc Helbling

University of Mannheim

Date Written: March 18, 2020


This study examines citizens’ support for state surveillance, contingent upon factors related to policy design and the context of implementation. While most people want to live in a secure environment, we argue in this study that the support of policies to reach this goal depends on their necessity, extensiveness, and reliability. 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 (i.e., policy extensiveness), as well as if a safety threat is salient (i.e., policy necessity). Concerns about data security reduce support (i.e., policy reliability). 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). European Journal of Political Research, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Conrad Ziller (Contact Author)

University of Duisburg-Essen ( email )

Lotharstrasse 1
Duisburg, 47048

Marc Helbling

University of Mannheim ( email )

A5, 6
Mannheim, 68159

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics