Center for Risk and Crisis Management

The University of Oklahoma

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Public Perspectives on Privacy,
Security, and UAS: 2014

January 2014 Nation-wide Internet Survey:
Investigating the dynamics of privacy, security,
and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS)

The University of Oklahoma’s Center for Risk and Crisis Management conducted a nation-wide Internet survey on 16–17 January 2014 investigating the dynamics of privacy, security, and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). Responses were collected from 1,364 participants selected from more than 1,000,000 panel members by Survey Sampling International using its proprietary Dynamix sampling system. Participation included respondents from all 50 US states and the District of Columbia. Data have been weighted to national demographic parameters for age, gender, Hispanic ethnicity, race, and geographic region.

Key Findings

Potential domestic uses of UAS will be conditioned by growing privacy concerns and suspicions of government intrusiveness, accompanied by slowly eroding perceptions of the threat of domestic terrorism. Mean concerns about privacy are statistically significantly lower than concerns about the economy or healthcare, but significantly higher than concerns about national security (including terrorism) or the environment. Perceptions are that government is overemphasizing security at the cost of privacy and other liberties. To the extent that UAS become associated with further erosion of privacy, public opposition can be expected.

Public receptivity to domestic UAS will be influenced by at least two groups of factors: (a) for what purposes the systems are to be used and who authorizes them, and (b) who will control the systems and the data they acquire. Participants in our study judge the benefits of drones to outweigh their risks for such applications as search and rescue, disaster response, selected law enforcement purposes, border surveillance, monitoring suspected terrorists, and preventing crime. Among government agencies that might employ UAS domestically, the DoD is most trusted, and the NSA is least trusted. For law enforcement or surveillance purposes, judicial authorization is important for perceived legitimacy. Regardless of application, support among survey respondents is significantly lower for drone-mounted cameras than for ground-mounted cameras used for the same purposes.

Because debate on UAS is in its early stages, members of our study see merit in both sides of balanced arguments for and against widespread domestic applications, suggesting that public opinion is labile and open to debate. How those arguments are presented, and how drones are managed to afford public safety and to protect privacy, will figure importantly in public support or opposition to domestic applications of UAS.


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US Public Perspectives on Privacy, Security,
and Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Kerry G. Herron, Ph.D.
Hank C. Jenkins Smith, Ph.D.
Carol L. Silva, Ph.D.


Download Brief

Special Focus: Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Hank Jenkins-Smith
Kerry G. Herron


Contact Information

Hank Jenkins-Smith
Email: hjsmith@ou.edu

Kerry Herron
Email: kherron@swcp.com

Phone: (405) 325-6389

Download Report

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Download


US Public Perspectives on Privacy, Security, and Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Kerry G. Herron, Ph.D.
Hank C. Jenkins Smith, Ph.D.
Carol L. Silva, Ph.D.


Download Brief

download brief Download


Special Focus: Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Hank Jenkins-Smith
Kerry G. Herron


Studying Risk,
Risk Perception,
& Crisis Management

An interdisciplinary research center

The CRCM is an interdisciplinary research center at the University of Oklahoma that studies risk, risk perception and crisis management in several substantive domains. The areas of research interest and expertise include energy and the environment, weather and climate, national security and terrorism, and the social dynamics surrounding complex controversial technologies.

New pathways for understanding

The CRCM seeks to develop new pathways for understanding and managing technological and environmental risks. The CRCM maintains an expanding network of affiliated researchers from other universities, national laboratories, and federal agencies to assist in both defining and utilizing new and unexpected opportunities for research and public policy analysis.

Learn more about the CRCM.