Privacy Versus Security in Trying Times: Evidence from Russian Public Opinion
33 Pages Posted: 6 Dec 2021
Date Written: December 1, 2021
When are citizens willing to give up civil rights to enable governments to deal with large-scale emergencies in non-democracies? Emergency responses are one of the most fundamental public services governments provide. Digital transformations in government services both create new possibilities for effective emergency measures and greater intrusions on civil liberties. Existing work on public support for emergency responses suggests that individuals accept intrusive measures when they are credibly framed as temporary responses to actual emergencies. Such work has largely focused on democracies, however, where institutions constrain government abuses. On the one hand, individuals in non-democracies may be more skeptical of emergency measures due to lack of competition and opportunities for redress. Institutional trust should therefore play an important role in such settings. On the other hand, skepticism may be tempered by exposure to and fear of emergencies being addressed. We test these arguments using an original vignette experiment that manipulates the type of emergency intrusive measures address (terrorism vs. an epidemic) and their duration to support for them. We embed this experiment on a survey of more than 16,250 respondents across 60 Russian regions. Our findings provide important insights into the logic of responses to public safety threats and public opinion about them in non-democracies.
Keywords: Civil Liberties, Government Surveillance, Emergency Measures and Powers, Terrorism, COVID, Institutional Trust, Russia
JEL Classification: D8, D78, I18, H12, P0
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation