We’ve known for years that most Americans support the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance apparatus. Poll after poll shows that about roughly 53 percent of Americans think the government should prioritize investigating terrorism over privacy.
But, according to a Pew poll, Americans aren’t very concerned if the NSA does things that aren’t even possible or legal. Fifty-four percent aren’t concerned if the NSA monitors their personal email or Google searches.
In reality, bulk collection of Internet and phone data may inadvertently scoop up the information of innocent Americans. But, it’s not possible to actually look at the Internet searches of 100s of millions of Americans. And, if an American must be investigated, it requires special judicial review.
It would require a massively more aggressive surveillance system to start looking at most Americans’s emails and Google searches. Even if America moved toward this kind of super spying state, most citizens would not be very concerned.
Moreover, 60 percent of Americans don’t care if the NSA monitors foreign and domestic leaders. Recent leaks reveal that the NSA may, in fact, be spying on sitting members of Congress. There was a lot of press outrage. Evidently, the press is more concerned than the American people.
“I am not doing anything wrong so they can monitor me all they want,” one respondent told Pew.
This view seems more common than a view the prioritizes privacy. Perhaps this is why years after Edward Snowden’s revelations, very little has changed.