Public Surveillance Approval Depends on Who's in The White House

A new Washington Post-Pew Research poll indicates that nearly half of Americans think that the government should have free rein to monitor their online activity if it would mean security from terrorist attack. 45% of the voters surveyed agreed with that sentiment, with 52% opposed. 56% of the voters thought that the NSA’s gathering of telephone call records approved through secret court proceedings was acceptable; 41% disagreed.

In 2006, when the first revelations of monitoring by the NSA were revealed, only 51% thought it acceptable, while 47% demurred.

The fact that Barack Obama is now president and not George W. Bush has changed the attitudes of Democratic voters markedly. When Bush was president, 51% of Democrats said terrorism investigation took precedence over privacy, but now 69% think terrorism investigation is more important. GOP members are diametrically opposed; there has been a 22-point surge for those who prefer their privacy protected.

This is also evidenced in attitudes toward the NSA; in early 2006, 37 % of Democrats approved of the NSA’s surveillance, now that number has risen to 64%. Republicans were at 75% in 2006 but now register at 52%.


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