Following Snowden: a cross-cultural study on the social impact of Snowden’s revelations

Publication Date14 August 2017
AuthorKiyoshi Murata,Andrew A. Adams,Ana María Lara Palma
SubjectInformation & knowledge management,Information management & governance,Information & communications technology
Following Snowden: a
cross-cultural study on the social
impact of Snowdens revelations
Kiyoshi Murata
School of Commerce, Meiji University, Tokyo, Japan
Andrew A. Adams
Centre for Business Information Ethics, Meiji University, Tokyo, Japan, and
Ana María Lara Palma
Department of Civil Engineering, Universidad de Burgos, Burgos, Spain
Purpose This paper aims to introduce a cross-cultural study of the views and implications of
Snowdens revelations about NSA/GCHQ surveillance practices, undertaken through surveys
administered in eight countries. The aims and academic and social signicance are explained, and
justication is offered for the methods used.
Design/methodology/approach Pilot surveys were deployed in two countries, following which
revised versions were deployed in eight countries (including expanded collection in the original pilot
countries). Quantitative analysis of suitable answer sets (Yes/No; Likert scales) and quantitative analysis
(interpretationof free text answers) were performed.
Findings Through the pilot surveystudies conducted in Japan and Spain, the academic signicanceand
meaningfulness,as well as social signicance of the project,were conrmed.
Practical implications The results of the cross-cultural study are expected to contribute not only to the
advance of surveillance study but also to the enhancement of ordinary, non-technical peoples awareness of state
surveillance and their proactive approach to protecting their own rights and dignity from covert intrusion by
government agencies.
Originality/value This paper claries the importance and methodologies of investigating the social
impact of Snowdens revelations on youngstersattitudes toward privacy and state surveillance in a cross-
cultural analysis framework. Although a few other studies have assessed the impact of Snowdens
revelations, thesehave mostly focussed on the USA, so this is the only study to dateconsidering that impact
on a broad internationalscale, using highly similar surveys to ensure comparability.
Keywords Surveillance, Cross-cultural analysis, Privacy, Social impact, Edward Snowden
Paper type Conceptual paper
1. Introduction
In June 2013, The Guardian in the UK and The Washington Post in the USA began publishing
internal electronic documents from the USsignals intelligence (SIGINT) org anisation the
National Security Agency (NSA), provided to them by Edward Snowden who had obtained the
documents while being employed as a systems administrator at the NSA for contractor Booz
Allen Hamilton. As was done previously, the NSA and other parts of the US Government
generally did not conrm or deny the validity of the documents;however, on 21st June 2013, the
US Department of Justice charged Snowden with violating the Espionage Act. The activities
detailed in the documents included activity undertaken by the NSA and its main SIGINT partner
the UKs Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), and with the SIGINT agencies of
Social impact
of Snowdens
Received 7 December 2016
Revised 7 December 2016
14 April 2017
Accepted 18 April 2017
Journalof Information,
Communicationand Ethics in
Vol.15 No. 3, 2017
pp. 183-196
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/JICES-12-2016-0047
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