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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Three quarters of Americans unwilling to give up internet privacy

A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on April 4th found the majority of Americans are not willing to share their personal emails, text messages, phone calls and other online activity with US counter-terrorism investigators even to help foil terror plots.

The poll shows that concern about privacy had increased from four years ago. In June 2013, 67 percent of those polled said they would not let investigators tap into their Internet activity to help the U.S. combat domestic terrorism, but in the recent poll the number has jumped to 75 percent. According to the survey that was taken from March 11 to the 20th, 32 percent of Americans polled said that the FBI and NSA were conducting "as much surveillance as is necessary". Seven percent thought there should be more surveillance. However, 37 percent said that the two agencies are "conducting too much surveillance on American citizens". Another 24 percent did not know. A graphic of all the survey results can be found here.
Later in the year, the US Congress is set to decide whether to reauthorize a key section of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that will expire on December 31 this year. The section has been allowing U.S. intelligence agencies to collect huge amounts of Internet communications of foreigners but results in incidental collection of communications of Americans. The issue now has increased political importance as Susan Rice, former Security Adviser for ex-president Obama, asked that the names of Trump campaign operatives be unmasked. Their communications had been monitored incidentally as part of spying on foreign operatives. The appended video discusses this. Americans' communications can be collected incidentally without there being any warrant for the collection. Although Democrats and Republicans in Congress have expressed some interest in limiting any warrantless searches of such data, apparently the Trump administration does not support such changes. Perhaps after the Rice revelations the Trump administration may change its mind. The photo of Rice shows her while she was still National Security Adviser to Obama.
The poll was conducted in all 50 states. The survey included 3,307 people, of whom 1,209 Republicans and 1,355 Democrats. The entire poll results can be accessed here.
Those polled came from continental USA plus Alaska and Hawaii and all those polled were 18 years of age or older.


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