Public preferences on the trade-off between privacy and surveillance in public spaces

  • Akbar Nasir Khan

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This research focuses upon public preferences on the trade-off between surveillance and privacy in public spaces in the context of Pakistan. Mass surveillance in Pakistan has begun from Lahore, the second largest city of the country, by installing approximately 8000 cameras with intelligent features primarily to deal with multiple security and public safety issues. Punjab Safe Cities Authority is a government organisation working under Punjab Police responsible for establishment and functioning of Punjab Police integrated command, control and communication centers in Punjab. However, public was not consulted prior to enforcement of this innovative technology-oriented project in Lahore. This research has strived to fill this gap in governance of security to explore the public preference of people in two cities (Multan and Rawalpindi) of the Punjab province through quantitative research and application of discrete choice stated preferences model.
This research is significant because of the impact assessment of Lahore Safe City project as it was designed, implemented and operationalized. A new governance framework for data protection and public safety was adopted for the first time in Pakistan and transformation of an old Policing model to an advanced collaborative digital platform was studied in real time to draw some conclusions.
Results of this research are important for the practice and public policy alike. From practical perspective, this research provided guidelines for taking on such innovative projects in countries like Pakistan and how to manage implementation of change in organisations like Punjab Police. From public policy perspective, it has initiated the debate of privacy as a fundamental human right which has strategic implications in the legal framework of the country by a possible amendment in the constitution of Pakistan. People have supported the installation of surveillance cameras for security however, their willingness to pay a security fee for this apparatus has some limitations. The research leads to recommendations that such public policy interventions should be designed after due consultations with the public for democratic governance. It also suggests that there should be a legal framework for protection of privacy rights of the people subjected to surveillance and a national regulatory mechanism should be adopted to strike a balance between application of mass surveillance systems and protection of privacy rights in the country in order to avoid technical and public policy risks.
Date of AwardMar 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorShabbar Jaffry (Supervisor)

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