Two new polls find that a majority of Americans disapprove of the NSA's data-mining programs. The head of the NSA says he's ready to provide evidence they've helped prevent terrorist attacks.
At first blush, it seemed, most Americans haven’t gotten too exercised about the revelation that the National Security Agency has been secretly tracking everyone’s phone data, in the name of protecting national security.
That was the take-away from a Washington Post/Pew Research Center poll released Tuesday. But two new polls out Wednesday – one by Gallup, another by YouGov taken for The Economist – paint a difference picture. Both find that a majority of Americans disapprove of the NSA data-mining programs.
In the Gallup poll, conducted June 10 and 11, 53 percent of Americans disapprove of the programs, while 37 percent approve. YouGov found that 59 percent disapprove of the programs, and only 35 percent approve.
Americans are also skeptical that the snooping is doing much good. Per YouGov, only 35 percent say it’s likely the information has prevented a terror attack, while 54 percent doubt it has. And while President Obama insists that “nobody is listening to your phone calls,” it turns out only 17 percent of Americans think that’s true, according to the YouGov poll, taken June 8 to 10.
“Reading your emails, listening to your phone calls, examining your phone or computer without a warrant – those are intrusions rejected by large majorities approaching the 93 percent who insist on seeing a warrant, subpoena, or national security letter before they'd consent to allowing government to enter their homes without permission or probable cause,” YouGov says in its report on the poll.
In another small hint at how some Americans are reacting to the data-mining stories, Bloomberg News reports that sales of George Orwell’s book “1984” have spiked on Amazon.com. The 1949 classic, a staple of high school reading lists, depicts a dystopian society marked by near-saturation surveillance at the hands of Big Brother.