A new study has found that Australians are willing to make significant sacrifices in terms of their privacy and movements in exchange for greater security, according to an InDaily article by Bension Siebert. The study is based on two surveys conducted by UniSA’s Institute of Choice in the wake of two major security incidents last year.
The surveys found that over half of the respondents were willing to accept being subject to biometric screening at airports, facial recognition scanning, state collection and storage of DNA records, and national ID cards, among other security measures. These survey results will likely find their way into the hands of partisans involved in the country’s ongoing debate about biometric security, with measures such as an expansion of police powers to collect fingerprints coming under intense scrutiny privacy advocates and legislators. The survey results are also fairly striking with respect to the idea national ID cards in particular – a prospect that attained 77 percent approval from the respondents – despite the controversy surrounding a government proposal to build a biometric citizen database for enhanced immigration control, a project that undoubtedly would tie in with such an ID card system.
Still, it’s worth emphasizing the conditions under which these surveys were conducted. Each survey was conducted after an important security incident in the country, with the first being done in the wake of high-profile anti-terrorism raids and the second conducted after the Lindt Café siege in Sydney. As such they may not accurately reflect the attitudes held by Australians most days of the year. Interviewed for the InDaily article, researcher Dr. Simon Fifer said, “What the results suggest is that when people have elevated fear of terrorism, they are much more ready to agree to restrictions and regulations, that at other times might have been considered heavy handed or draconian.” Such a trend will likely be of interest to those on both sides of these debates.
May 5, 2015 – by Alex Perala