A new survey by USA Today and the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press finds that even after President Obama’s speech last week announcing changes and proposed reforms, the public remains skeptical of surveillance programs revealed by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
The new national survey by the Pew Research Center and USA TODAY, conducted Jan. 15-19 among 1,504 adults, finds that overall approval of the program has declined since last summer, when the story first broke based on Edward Snowden’s leaked information.
Today, 40% approve of the government’s collection of telephone and internet data as part of anti-terrorism efforts, while 53% disapprove. In July, more Americans approved (50%) than disapproved (44%) of the program.
In addition, nearly half (48%) say there are not adequate limits on what telephone and internet data the government can collect; fewer (41%) say there are adequate limits on the government’s data collection. About four-in-ten Republicans (39%) and independents (38%) – and about half of Democrats (48%) – think there are adequate limits on the information that the government can collect. […]
Overall, the public is divided about whether Edward Snowden’s leak of classified information, which brought the program to light, has served or harmed the public interest: 45% say it has served the public interest while 43% say it harmed it. Nonetheless, a 56% majority wants to see the government pursue a criminal case against Snowden, while 32% oppose this. This is little changed from June, shortly after Snowden’s first leaks of information about the program. […]
Obama’s proposed changes to the NSA’s data collection program did not register widely with the public. Just 49% say they heard about the proposed changes, with little difference across partisan groups.
Among those that did hear about the proposals, large majorities of Republicans (86%) and independents (78%) say these changes will not make much difference when it comes to protecting people’s privacy. Among Democrats who have heard of the changes, 56% say they won’t make much difference.
Read the full survey to learn more.