Who checks your status? Authorities ask social media and keep the answers to themselves

Surveillance has become the tool of choice for government authorities, not just in China and North Korea but in most Western democracies as well. The problem with surveillance is that it is one-way communication by default. Two-way transparency has to be designed and few government authorities perceive this as a priority.

This study is an examination of how authorities in Denmark, Poland and the United Kingdom report information requests they make to social media companies. Four researchers ask the same questions in their respective countries and compare the results.

  • How often do government authorities request information about citizens, from private corporations and social media companies?
  • Do the authorities report back to the public
    about their information requests?
  • How does the public react to leaks, revelations and public information about such requests?

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Julia Ballaschk
Ian Brown
Dorota Glowacka
Inga Koralewska

Edited by
Jacob Dexe
Rikard Linde

Fores Study 2015:5


Do you wish to know more about the publication, Fores work in the field, contact us for an interview or book us for a seminar, please contact

Jonas Andersson Schwarz
Acting program manager, Digital society

Robin Wetter
Assistant program manager, Digitala samhället