As the 15th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, partisan differences over the ability of terrorists to launch a major attack on the United States are now as wide as at any point dating back to 2002.
Much of the focus has been on government surveillance, though there are also significant concerns about how businesses use data.
Pew Research Center has been studying various dimensions of the issue. Here are some key findings from our public opinion surveys.
Percentage of the public saying in January that Edward Snowden’s leaks “served the public interest,” compared with 43% who say the leaks “harmed the public interest.”
Young adults are significantly more likely to support Edward Snowden and his leaking of classified details of government surveillance programs.
Just half have heard about Obama’s changes and most who did say they won’t increase privacy. Overall approval of the surveillance program has declined 10 points since July, from 50% to 40%.
In the wake of reports that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been listening to phone calls of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other heads of state, a 56% majority of Americans say it is unacceptable for the U.S. to monitor the phones of allied leaders.
To better understand how the manner in which the government’s surveillance program is described affects public evaluations, the Pew Research Center conducted a question wording experiment.
Most Americans say the government collects what is actually being said in phone calls and emails – and not just ‘metadata.’ Nevertheless, 50% approve of the surveillance program, while 44% disapprove.
Young people are more likely than other age groups to think that the NSA leak serves the public interest and are divided over whether Snowden should be prosecuted.