Prague SECONOMICS Discussion Papers 2014/2: Comparative Analysis

D. Gawrecká
J. Hronešová
P. Vamberová
P. Guasti
Z. Mansfeldová
Prague Graduate School in Comparative Qualitative Analysis 2013

For this project researchers used an in-depth qualitative comparative analysis of media content. Researchers carried out a comparison of three security issues in ten countries. The issues compared were Stuxnet (which represents cyber terrorism), 3D body scanners (representing security measures against terrorism and organized crime, though with possible negative impact on passengers’ health), and CCTV cameras (a security tool which can threaten people´s privacy) To provide relevant cultural and political diversity, three kinds of countries were selected for comparative purposes: old European Union (EU) member states (Germany, Italy, Great Britain, and Spain) new EU member states (the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland), and non-European countries (Mexico, the USA, and Turkey). Analysis showed that the media and public are aware of the trade-offs between security, privacy and the need to regulate security measures. However, in the countries studied both internal and external security is not neglected as terrorism and organized crime is perceived as looming security threats. In other words, consensus permitting a certain degree of surveillance is necessary. Despite of this
fact, newspapers reflected that greater security does not necessarily entail a loss of privacy, and vice versa. In this respect, newspapers fulfilled their function as a platform for critical discussion.

The three security-related topics did not attract the same level of media attention. Newspapers focused more on issues pertaining to CCTV cameras and 3D body scanners, while the least attention was paid to Stuxnet because it was not a technology directly affecting daily life of common people. The United States led the debate about 3D body scanners and Stuxnet, but played only marginal role in the discussion of CCTV cameras. Key factors influencing the discussion of security measures was the past experience of the countries with some kind terrorist attack (the United States, Great Britain and Spain) as well as and the probability of future attacks.

To conclude, security related-issues, surveillance, the right to privacy, and its protection are not clearly defined and static terms. However their perception is influenced by the security context, mass media, cultural variables, laws, and particular context of specific state. Moreover, media plays a key role in the communication of security issues and threats. They are the source of information and significantly influence and shape people´s attitudes about security.