Majority of Americans Oppose Some NSA Surveillance

A majority of Americans believe it’s “unacceptable” for the National Security Agency (NSA) to monitor the phone calls of allied leaders, according to survey data released last week by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

Of the 1,002 adults surveyed between October 31 and November 3, some 56 percent thought the practice was unacceptable, while another 36 percent found it acceptable; a final 9 percent didn’t know. The majority of Republicans (57 percent), Democrats (53 percent), and Independents (56 percent) all found it objectionable.

Some 22 percent of respondents said they “closely” followed reports about the U.S. government’s surveillance of various targets. That’s a slight dip from earlier this summer, when 35 percent said they were paying attention to the country’s reported intelligence activities; of course, that was right after government whistleblower Edward Snowden began leaking top-secret documents about the NSA’s activities to The Guardian and other newspapers. In the intervening months, news stories such as Obama’s health-insurance exchanges have drawn bigger headlines along with people’s attention.

Some 17 percent of young adults are closely following news about the government’s surveillance programs—not very different from other age demographics.

Snowden’s revelations are still ongoing. His latest documents, filtered through German publication Der Spiegel, suggest the GCHQ agency (Britain’s equivalent of the National Security Agency) used fake LinkedIn and Slashdot pages to load malware onto computers at Belgian telecommunications firm Belgacom.

In an emailed statement to Slashdot, the GCHQ’s Press and Media Affairs Office wrote: “We have no comment to make on this particular story.”

Meanwhile, LinkedIn’s representatives suggested they had no knowledge of the reported hack. “We have read the same stories, and we want to clarify that we have never cooperated with any government agency,” a spokesperson from the social network wrote in an email to Slashdot, “nor do we have any knowledge, with regard to these actions, and to date, we have not detected any of the spoofing activity that is being reported.”

The surveillance revelations aren’t likely to end anytime soon—and public opinion might radically change if Snowden and associated journalists reveal something even more damning in the coming weeks and months.

 

Image: Pew Research Center for the People & the Press

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