Are They Fools? Public Acceptance of Digital Surveillance
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  • Andrew Allison

    I have a quite different take. Of course we agreed that increased surveillance was needed after 9/11. The problem is, as noted at, that the government, as governments will, has interpreted the enabling legislation in ways it was never intended to be. For example, what was authorized was surveillance of non-US citizens but what we have is surveillance of US citizens who place international calls or visit foreign websites. The obfuscation (to put it kindly) of the Administration suggests that, like the IRS, the security apparatus is over-reaching. As information dribbles out about the full extent off the spying on US citizens by their own government, I expect the attitude of the public to change.

  • Fat_Man

    Depends on your polling organization:

    “57% Fear Government Will Use NSA Data to Harass Political Opponents”

    “There is little public support for the sweeping and unaccountable nature of the NSA surveillance program along with concerns about how the data will be used.

    “Fifty-seven percent (57%) of voters nationwide believe it is likely the NSA data will be used by other government agencies to harass political opponents. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that just 30% consider it unlikely and 14% are not sure.

    “33% approve of the NSA program to fight terrorism while 50% are opposed.

    “26% now believe it is necessary to collect data on millions of ordinary Americans to fight terrorism. Sixty-four percent (64%) believe it would be better to narrow the program so that it monitors only those with ties to terrorists or suspected terrorists.

    “Seventy-four percent (74%) believe the government should be required to show a judge the need for monitoring the calls of specific Americans.”

  • Fat_Man

    I think that the proponents of the NSA program need to explain to the American people, what is being done and why. If they believe that they doing it to prevent terrorism, they need to show these programs are adapted to preventing terrorism and minimizing the damage to privacy and civil liberty.

    One problem that they have doing this is that the President has made recent speeches claiming that the war against terror is almost over and that Congress should repeal the Authorization to use force. That does not sound like a justification for the NSAs program.

  • jeburke

    I think the polling numbers are a superficial reaction to extraordinarily misleading reportage, beginning with the initial Post and Guardian stories with their glaring “direct from servers” error and featuring constant fear-mongering hype. With the legal and operational safeguards put in place governing NSA and FBI surveillance activities in recent years, American internet users concerned about privacy have far, far more to fear from hackers, identity thieves, employers, suspicious spouses and commercially driven data mining than from the government. I’ve been telling colleagues, relatives and friends for years never to put anything in an email that you wouldn’t want to display on your front lawn.

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