D.04.5. The Price of Security: A comparative analysis of public attitudes to security and acceptance of risk
More and more globalization is leading to new security risks and threats. A compromise
of freedom, privacy and security is not only becoming harder to reach, but also more
important. Media contributes to public perception and opinion. Thus the main objectives
of WP4 were to study citizen’s reaction to risks and their acceptance of security
measures in public opinions, attitudes and media.
This deliverable is a theory-driven interdisciplinary exploration of empirical findings to
compare international media with survey data, existing secondary international data and
SECONOMICS models and the validation of the SECONOMICS models. It is a result of
cooperation among partners form WP1, 2, 3, 4, and 6.
We synthetize the findings of our media research in the empirical chapters. New insights
into the comparative study of CCTV camera systems and 3D body scanners in printed
media are presented. Further a comparison of reporting on cyber security in printed
media and expert blogs is done in these chapters. In the comparative chapters we
combine the media and other data and integrate the main findings of the validation
process of SECONOMICS models. In conclusions, we address the issues of future and
emerging threats as well as provide policy recommendations.
In the course of the project we have developed and applied instrument for qualitative
comparative analysis of security issues in the media, in order to conduct in-depth
qualitative and quantitative analysis of media coverage; created SECONOMICS media
corpus (covering the issues and countries indicated above); constructed salience index
and model of public acceptance of security measures and validated these with
stakeholders and experts in aviation, urban public transport and critical national
By applying and advancing the methods of qualitative and quantitative research, we are
able to fill the gap in the study of security and security risks by presenting a comparison
of the unique data (media, survey, macro data) of transnational security issues in three
areas of critical infrastructure (air transport, public transport and critical national
infrastructures in form of energy provision networks).
Our case studies include cyber-terrorism as an example of risk and 3D scanners and CCTV
cameras as an example of security measures, although, as mentioned above, some
media outlets framed Stuxnet as a security measure. The main factors shaping how the
media report on security threats and security measures are past experience with a
particular security threat and the probability of the country being targeted in the
future. These factors account for the main differences in the extent of coverage
dedicated to the issue in the different domestic media.
The media debates in the studied countries each prioritized a specific aspect of national
security – in reaction to the effect of both global events (i.e. terrorist attacks) and
domestic developments (economic and political). Countries that are generally more
active on the international scene and/or have had a previous experience with domestic
and international terrorism are generally more exposed to (and hence concerned about)
potential terrorist attacks. In these countries (the UK, the US, Spain, and Germany)
security measures are high on the policy agenda, as demonstrated by the prioritization
of body scanners in airport security and intensified CCTV camera use in counterterrorism.
In countries with no real danger of a terrorist attack by
(international/national) extremist groups (Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia), there
is a low policy interest in advanced and costly security devices, such as body scanners at
airports and CCTV cameras, are seen positively as a crime prevention measure.
In the salience analysis of airport security, we find, that acceptance of security measure
in airport context is connected with the perception of effectiveness of the given
measure. Furthermore, the analysis shows that the perceived values of security
procedures is enhanced by higher perception of quality, and affect the air-travel
intention positively. Furthermore, we established indirect, but positive relationship
between perceived equity, conceptualized broadly as different treatment due to
passengers’ nationality, and intention to travel.
The study of salience of security measures in urban public transport also yields highly
innovative findings. Examination of critical salience index indicated very low negative
salience of the three issues in question (fare evasion, uncivic behaviour – vandalism, and
ticket inspectors’ behaviour). The validation of the social model in urban public
transport domain emphasized the need and importance of considering social factors in
addressing security challenges both domestic and those of globalisation and growing
diversity. Another aspect dominant during the validation activities was the need for
comprehensive solutions to security issues.
Security coordination was an important point raised by stakeholders; within the various
units of public transport provider, between different means of public transport (for
example, effective implementation of security measure in metro can shift the security
issue to public buses and viceversa), between public transport providers and security
forces (Police), as well as pan European coordination of both public transport providers
and of security forces (Police).
In regards to salience of Critical National Infrastructure security, SECONOMICS research
highlights that both citizens and stakeholders largely underestimate the salience of
security issues in the domain (D4.3, D4.4, D2.4). Furthermore, the validation in the CNI
domain shown that salience and satisfaction of security issues have the potential to
directly as well as indirectly influence costs of security.
Assurance and reliability of information for future and emerging CNI threats and
appropriate dissemination of sensitive information are key challenges. The ways to
mitigate some of the issues outlined above are ensuring that issues of citizens’
satisfaction are acknowledged and incorporated in allocation of resources, in training of
security personnel, as well as substantially addressed in communication strategies of
Events such as acts of terrorism (Boston marathon bombing 2013, terrorist attempt in
Bonn 2013) can cause dramatic shift in salience of security measure – most interestingly
shift from negative to positive salience (CCTV in both the US and Germany). However, as
the initial shock subsides and the plurality of media debate returns to the initial level
(after terrorist attack media are usually dominated by voices of actors favouring the
monitoring of public spaces), the salience of the given security measure returns (almost)
back to its initial standpoint. Hence while dramatic events such as acts of terrorism have
the power to significantly influence public opinion, their impact is not as lasting as that
of cultural attitudes and media landscape.
This deliverable highlights that the balance of security and freedom is the crucial task of
contemporary governments, the role of critical media as a platform for public political
discourse and as a guardian of freedoms is gaining considerable importance. Media play
a critical role as an arena in which information is made available to the public, multiple
claims and justifications are presented and discussed, and essentially opinions are