A poll released Monday shows that despite the uproar over the National Security Agency’s newly leaked surveillance programs, a majority of Americans are fine with the agency's pervasive reach. Still, a sizable majority is opposed to the vast NSA surveillance net.
The snap poll comes courtesy of the Pew Research Center and the Washington Post. After asking 1,004 American adults for their opinions on NSA surveillance programs like the newly revealed tech-spying program PRISM, pollsters found that 56 percent of Americans have no objection.
Nevertheless, 41 percent of responders found the programs completely unacceptable, making them a significant minority. Only 2 percent of responders were unaware of the issue. Furthermore, only 27 percent of poll responders said they were following the NSA surveillance news "very closely." More poll responders seem to be interested in the country's economic conditions.
The poll also asked responders whether it was more important for the government to investigate potential terrorist threats or protect its citizens’ privacy. Sixty-two percent of responders said the government was better off investigating terrorists, while 34 percent stated that privacy was more important.
The numbers showed a change since the George W. Bush administration, pointing toward wider acceptance of Obama administration methods. In June 2006, during the middle of Bush’s second term, only 51 percent of responders found NSA surveillance programs acceptable, while 47 percent were opposed. The numbers were almost evenly split, while now public opinion has slightly shifted towards acceptance.
In the past week, NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden has revealed two large-scale, top-secret NSA surveillance programs. First, Snowden leaked to the Guardian and the Washington Post that the NSA is collecting the phone records of millions of Americans who are customers of Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ). Then, Snowden leaked news of PRISM, a top-secret surveillance program with direct access to the servers of tech giants such as Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB), Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) and the Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT). Snowden remained anonymous until Sunday, when the Guardian and the Washington Post publicly revealed his name and background with his consent.