Trust and Support for Surveillance Policies in Canadian and American Opinion

Reza Nakhaie, Willem De Lint

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    17 Citations (Scopus)


    After September 11, much legislation has been passed that has impacted negatively upon the tradition of limited government and entrenched privacy rights. Scholarly interest is attracted to the mechanism by which regimes of control and surveillance have disestablished rights without engendering substantial popular resistance. In this article, we analyze a survey of Americans and Canadians on their attitudes toward surveillance and security-based legislation. We develop an argument that trust in government (TGB) produces a tolerance for legislation that limits citizen's rights. We evaluate our model for both Canada and the United States, given the scholarly debate that these countries differ regionally in their level of TGB and support of statism. We posit that support for surveillance and security legislation is related to respondents' trust of government, airport officials, and low tolerance of minorities (LTMs). Results suggest that TGB and airport officials as well as LTMs are the key predictors of surveillance and security legislation in both Canada and the United States. Although Quebeckers are more supportive and residents of the U.S. South are less supportive of security and surveillance legislation than the rest of North America, much of the difference in support for such policies can be accounted for by the level of public TGB.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)149-169
    Number of pages21
    JournalInternational Criminal Justice Review
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


    • comparative crime/justice
    • law enforcement/security
    • North America
    • other
    • quantitative methods


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