The Battle for Omniscience: State surveillance & personal privacy in the UK

In a poll conducted via our proprietary online research panel ‘Resonate’, and in the light of leaks emanating from former American security contractor Edward Snowden, the majority (77%) of 1,134 UK practising Christians felt that mass intelligence-gathering by the state in the UK is increasing, however 82% agreed that it is justified in order to prevent acts of terrorism and 69% considered that the level of CCTV in operation in their area was about right. The results were disclosed by the Church Times in its 3rd January 2014 (p.6).

(A snapshot of information from the survey)

Research conducted in December 2013 with our Resonate panel (surveying 1134 practising Christians across the UK) shows that most Christians see surveillance as on the  increase. Not surprising when you consider the dramatic rise in CCTV and other monitoring in recent years.

We can see the opinion of the majority and the following comments are typical of many respondents and include many who although concerned see reduction in crime and terrorism as a justifying factor to some extent.

  • CCTV everywhere, tracking cookies/programs following me about the net, almost every organisation I come into contact with appears to have existing data about me before I even engage with them, with the implication being that I would never know about it otherwise. 
  • Exposure of intelligence gathering by the Guardian newspaper in particular has made me aware of how much our privacy is being invaded.
  • It has become evident that the State is snooping on a wide range of electronic communication without proper judicial oversight.
  • Recent disclosures in the press certainly seem to indicate that increased surveillance is the case. If surveillance is the price that we have to pay for security in the face of terrorist threats it does not seem to high a price to pay. 

But when asked about the level of CCTV usage in their own area most people feel that it is about right.

Although whilst it may be alright from the point of view of improving their safety more than half of the respondents also found that it was either 'not very' or 'not at all' possible to carrry out their personal affairs in private 

Interestingly only a reduction in terrorism, domestic crime or the provision of greater government accountability where seen by a majority as being justfication for greater government surveillance.