Would US citizens accept cybersecurity deresponsibilization? Perhaps not

Renaud, Karen and van der Schyff, Karl and MacDonald, Stuart (2023) Would US citizens accept cybersecurity deresponsibilization? Perhaps not. Computers and Security, 131. 103301. ISSN 0167-4048 (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cose.2023.103301)

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Responsibilizing governments provide advice about how to manage a variety of risks. If citizens do not heed the advice and things go wrong, they are expected to accept the adverse consequences without complaint. However, in some cases, citizens are unable or unwilling to embrace these government-assigned responsibilities and to act on the advice, for a variety of valid reasons. It may be appropriate for governments to provide more direct support: in essence, deresponsibilizing citizens who struggle to embrace the responsibility. In this paper, we explore whether US citizens would be willing to accept more help from their government in the cyber realm. Using two studies, we find that perceptions related to the government’s competence and benevolence are necessary pre-requisites for a willingness to be deresponsibilized, and also that many respondents did not have confidence that either of these were sufficient. This deficiency might well render governments’ well-intended deresponsibilization endeavours futile. We conclude by proposing deresponsibilization strategies that acknowledge and accommodate this.