Toward a Surveillance Society? Issues of Privacy and Surveillance in the Bundestag Debates


  • Iana Gein



Inductive framing, parliamentary debates, privacy, surveillance, the Bundestag


This study has analysed the frames related to privacy and surveillance in the Bundestag debates in the period between 2014-2017. By performing the inductive framing analysis of the Parliamentary protocols this research identified three privacy and three surveillance frames. The analysis has shown what frames are used by the grand coalition, which has the most influence on the legislative outcome, as well as the opposition in the Bundestag. As a result, it revealed the goals German politicians pursue in relation to privacy and surveillance. One of the main findings is that privacy is discussed less often than surveillance, and is mainly presented as personal data. The dominant privacy frame discusses privacy as threatened by the flawed technologies and unsecure data sharing practices. Another important finding is that the grand coalition considers freedoms and security as conflicting rights that should be brought into balance. As evidence of this approach, one of the surveillance frames interprets surveillance as a democratic response to security issues. However, the dominant surveillance frame portrays surveillance as an excessive practice of national secret services. The most important is that this study has identified the shift how politicians portray surveillance. In the beginning of 2014, due to Snowden’s revelations about the USA’s global surveillance practices, surveillance was intensively discussed as an anti-democratic practice of foreign secret services. However, after the attack on Charlie Hebdo in January 2015, Bundestag members present surveillance as an acceptable democratic tool to ensure security and prevent terrorism. 


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