A large majority of Americans say the federal government should focus on investigating possible terrorist threats even if personal privacy is compromised, and most support the blanket tracking of telephone records in an effort to uncover terrorist activity, according to a new Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll.
Fully 45 percent of all Americans say the government should be able to go further than it is, saying that it should be able to monitor everyone’s online activity if doing so would prevent terrorist attacks. A slender majority, 52 percent, say no such broad-based monitoring should occur.
The new survey comes amid recent revelations of the National Security Agency’s extensive collection of telecommunications data to facilitate terrorism investigations.
Overall, 56 percent of Americans consider the NSA’s accessing of telephone call records of millions of Americans through secret court orders “acceptable,” while 41 percent call the practice “unacceptable.” In 2006, when news broke of the NSA’s monitoring of telephone and e-mail communications without court approval, there was a closer divide on the practice — 51 percent to 47 percent.