WASHINGTON (AP) — Following disclosures about the National Security Agency’s massive surveillance programs, a majority of Americans believe the U.S. government is doing a poor job of protecting privacy rights, according to a new poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Close to 60 percent of Americans oppose the NSA’s collection of data on telephone and Internet usage. A similar majority opposes the legal process supervised by a secret federal court that oversees the government’s classified surveillance.
The American public is still anxious about terrorism as the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11,2001 attacks approaches. About 6 in 10 Americans feel it is sometimes necessary to sacrifice rights to confront terrorism.
But suspicions about the government’s promises to protect civil liberties have deepened since 2011. Only 53 percent now say the government does a good job of ensuring freedoms, compared to 60 percent two years ago.
The shift in public attitudes follows a three-month barrage of leaks to media organizations by Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who released secret documents about the surveillance agency’s inner workings.
In follow-up interviews after the poll, some respondents described Snowden as a criminal and an attention-seeker. Others called him a whistleblower. But many agree that his disclosures have highlighted the once-remote issue of government surveillance.