This paper conceptualizes scandals as a special type of discourse in which the legitimacy of surveillance institutions and practices comes into question. Scandals force surveillance advocates to engage in legitimacy management practices (Suchmann 1995) and adopt legitimization strategies that can be observed. This paper presents a framework for the study of surveillance legitimizing strategies in scandal discourses that can be used for future cross-case comparisons. The aim is to analyze how the legitimacy of surveillance practices is maintained or repaired by surveillance advocates when it is contested in times of scandal. The research question is what rhetorical strategies are used to legitimize surveillance and prevent the scandal from escalating? The case under study is the reaction by the German federal Government between June and October 2013. Because of the Federal Election in September and the strong notions about privacy and data protection within Germany, this discourse is especially relevant. The surveillance legitimizing practices follow an escalation logic: from denial of knowledge to denial of participation, acknowledgment of limited participation and, finally, to complaining about the monitoring of Angela Merkel’s cellphone.
in: Surveillance and Society, Vol 13. No 2. (2015). Surveillance and Security Intelligence after Snowden (Part1)