Public opinion on National Security Agency surveillance programs: a multi-method approach



Publication Details

Reddick, C., Chatfield, A. T. & Jaramillo, P. A. (2015). Public opinion on National Security Agency surveillance programs: a multi-method approach. Government Information Quarterly, 32 (2), 129-141.


This paper examines public opinion on National Security Agency (NSA) mass surveillance programs of Americans. A new theory, developed and tested in this paper, explicates the effect of political efficacy on creating greater citizen-centric e-governance. Its propositions state that the higher citizens' perceived self-efficacy in political knowledge and the higher citizens' perceived fairness of government procedures and outcomes, the more engaged citizens would be in using technology for better governance and the more vocal in their views on NSA surveillance programs. This paper adopts a multi-method research approach to examine citizens' approval/disapproval of NSA surveillance programs: (1) critical discourse analysis of tweets exchanged among citizens and interest groups in Twittersphere and (2) logistic regression analysis of survey data collected from a random sample public opinion poll of Americans. The findings of both analyses provide evidence that citizens hold strong views toward NSA surveillance programs. These findings indicate that government needs to be more efficacious in communicating about surveillance programs more transparently to garner greater citizens' approval for its surveillance programs. The findings also provide preliminary evidence for good explanatory power of the theory of citizen-centric e-governance. The theory explains effectively the relationship between government practicing greater political efficacious behavior and citizens engaging in more citizen-centric e-governance in governing government surveillance programs for a better balance between security and privacy.

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