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Governmental Surveillance -The balance between legal security and privacy

Conference paper
Authors Marie Eneman
Jan Ljungberg
Bertil Rolandsson
Dick Stenmark
Published in Proceedings of the UK Academy for Information Systems (UKAIS) Conference, Oxford, UK.
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of Applied Information Technology (GU)
Department of Sociology and Work Science
Language en
Keywords Digital Surveillance Public Law Enforcement Authorities Swedish Police Legal Security Privacy Qualitative study
Subject categories Information Systems, Technology and social change, Other Social Sciences, Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology), Law and Society


Digital technologies have provided a radical change in the power, intensity and scope of surveillance, and digital surveillance can now in an even further scale collect, process, and store data. Surveillance, which can be conducted at different levels in society, i.e., state, organisational, and individual level, can be seen to have both positive and negative consequences. On the one hand, digital surveillance can be seen as tools leading to improved effectiveness and legal security in society, but on the other hand, digital surveillance is associated with concern of threats to individuals’ integrity/privacy. In this study, the focus is on state surveillance conducted by public law enforcement authorities, where the Swedish Police Authority and their use of digital surveillance, plays a central role. Swedish police are currently using a number of surveillance technologies aimed to improve transparency, legitimacy and legal security. However, it is important to investigate also what unforeseen negative consequences these technologies have in a broader societal context. The overall purpose with this study is therefore to examine to what extent public law enforcement authorities pay attention to questions such as privacy when introducing digital surveillance technologies. The study is guided by the following questions: (i) What opportunities can be related to the implementation and use of digital surveillance in public law enforcement authorities? (ii) What kind of challenges do the increasing use of digital surveillance create between organisational governance, officials’ work practice, and the integrity of citizens - and how do the authorities tackle these challenges? Theoretically we draw on research on surveillance and privacy and empirically this study is designed as a qualitative study of the Swedish Police as our main case.

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