Polls show Americans still bugged by NSA surveillance revelations

Three recent polls show that Americans have on-going concerns about government surveillance of their communications, and mixed feelings about trading privacy for security concerns.


Edward Snowden

The most-recent poll, released on Wednesday by the Washington Post and ABC News, also indicates that NSA leaker Edward Snowden is losing sympathy from the American public in his quest for asylum.

In the Washington Post poll, 53 percent said Snowden should be charged with a crime, up 10 percentage points in the past month.

Two other polls, from Fox News and Quinnipiac taken in late June, also reveal popular concerns about surveillance.

In the Washington Post poll, taken last weekend, about 74 percent of people said the NSA’s surveillance of telephone calls and Internet traffic intrudes on some privacy rights of Americans, and 49 percent thought the NSA was intruding on their own personal privacy rights.

Among those people who believed the NSA was poking its nose into their private lives, 70 percent said the act was unjustified.

In a more-telling question, 57 percent of people believed it was more important to investigate terrorist threats than to ignore those possible threats by not intruding on personal privacy. That number is at its lowest point since the Post started asking the question in 2002—when 79 percent of people accepted privacy intrusions.

The Fox News poll, released in late June, showed that 58 percent of Americans were concerned that the government was using surveillance to gather information on them. Also, about one-third of people polled believed the government was listening to their phone calls and reading their e-mails.

Also, folks in the Fox News poll, by a 46 percent to 44 percent margin, thought the NSA was doing more harm to Americans by gathering their private information than good by using the information to catch terrorists.

The Quinnipiac poll, when ended on July 8, showed that 53 percent of Americans thought the surveillance program was too much of an intrusion into Americans’ personal privacy, but 54 percent also thought it was needed to keep Americans safe.

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