The Washington Post reports on results from a poll that it conducted concerning Americans’ attitudes toward surveillance and privacy:
Amid this year’s revelations about the federal government’s vast apparatus for tracking the movements and communications of people worldwide, Americans are uneasy with the extent of surveillance yet often use snooping tools in their own lives, a Washington Post poll has found.
The sweet spot between liberty and security has been hard to pinpoint ever since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington. Remarkable advances in information technology have enabled counterterrorism tactics far more sweeping and intrusive — and powerful — than the United States had ever deployed. At the same time, the relationship between consumers and businesses was elementally altered as mobile phones, GPS, Google and Facebook gave corporations a new capacity to track their customers’ behavior. […]
Nearly seven in 10 Americans are concerned about how much personal information government agencies and private companies collect, the poll found. But among parents 40 or older — the group most likely to have teenagers — 70 percent said they monitor the Web sites their children visit. Many also review their kids’ texts, e-mails and social-media use. A small number of Americans also report tracking the movements of their spouses or using video feeds to monitor elderly parents. […]
The Post poll found Americans almost equally bothered by government surveillance as they are by corporate snooping, with 69 percent concerned about tracking by Internet search and social-media companies and 66 percent worried about what the government does. Overall, more-educated and affluent Americans were less likely to be concerned about surveillance. Political conservatives tended to be more concerned about government surveillance. […]
Most Americans seem to have made their peace with video surveillance cameras, which are now widely used by governments and businesses, especially in densely populated areas. In The Post’s poll, more than four out of five Americans were comfortable with the number of cameras in use or even would favor having more installed. Only 14 percent would like to see fewer cameras.
But about half of Americans wanted limits on how long police may keep location data on citizens. Such data are collected by advanced video surveillance systems, license-plate readers and other technologies.