Data Snapshot

When Americans approve of government surveillance

Nearly two years after Edward Snowden disclosed National Security Agency surveillance programs, the Pew Research Center has released new findings on Americans' current views on privacy and information collection by the U.S. government.

Pew's survey explored the ways people have altered their own online behavior since learning of the government surveillance programs, as well as their views about the programs themselves and the sorts of people who should be targets of government monitoring.

A full 87 percent of respondents said they had heard at least "a little" about the government's collection of information from telephone, email and online communications, and barely half voiced concern over the efforts: 

Overall, how concerned are you about government surveillance of Americans’ data and electronic communications?

Legend
Response Percent
Very concerned 17%
Somewhat concerned 35%
Not very concerned 33%
Not at all concerned 13%
Refused 2%

However, 61 percent said they have grown "less confident" that surveillance programs serve the public's interests as more details have come to light; 37 percent of respondents said they were "more confident" now than when they first learned of the programs. 

And all surveillance targets are clearly not considered equal: 

In your opinion, is it acceptable or unacceptable for the American government to monitor communications from the following:

- Acceptable - Unacceptable


Survey Source: "Americans' Privacy Strategies Post-Snowden" by Lee Rainie and Mary Madden.

About the Author

Jonathan Lutton is an FCW editorial fellow. Connect with him at jlutton@fcw.com

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