John F. Kennedy Institut, Freie Universität Berlin
Institute of American Studies and Polish Diaspora, Jagiellonian University
One of the most pressing issues facing European and American societies today is the apparent trade-off between trust in government, transparency, and security. Trust in government is at record lows across many countries, demands for government transparency are rising, and governments are under pressure to react to security challenges (e.g., terrorism) by increasing surveillance and secrecy. The US National Security Agency's surveillance practices, for example, are widely perceived as having eroded both citizens' trust in the US government and foreign governments' trust in the US. And yet, there is hardly any scholarship on the relationship between trust in government, government transparency, and security surveillance.
The purpose of this project is to research the relationship between surveillance, trust, and transparency, specifically at the intersection of foreign security politics and legal studies. Guiding questions include: How do trust and transparency limit or enable the expansion of surveillance as a technology of governance, both domestically and internationally? How can we explain the transatlantic effects of American surveillance policies and legal debates? The project will be structured along three sets of questions: First, how can we theorize the intersection of trust, transparency, and surveillance as a system of concepts? Second, how can we apply these insights to an empirical study of surveillance practices in American and European security policy? The goal here is to empirically study the political and legal context of American surveillance practices, and to understand how these affect legal and political decisions on surveillance practices in Germany and Poland. Third, a final set of questions investigates governance mechanisms that might contribute to policy. We will use the project's theoretical and empirical insights to evaluate legal mechanisms and policy options that balance needs for trust, transparency, and surveillance.
The project will produce an edited book in which the PI's co-author the framing article, a substantive chapter, and the concluding policy outlook, and which includes additional chapter contributions from European and American scholars with specific country and topic expertise. The project will also lead to at least one peer-reviewed journal article.