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Snooping: What Americans think about it all

As the controversy surrounding the revelation about widespread wiretapping in the USA continues unabated - including the critical question of how it is that a private company was undertaking the snooping - Americans have been polled on what they think about it all.     Perhaps the stats are not all that surprising - given that most people don't readily appreciate how infringement of liberties is a very slippery slope.

"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.

General priorities also are similar to what they were in 2006: Sixty-two percent of Americans now say it’s more important for the government to investigate terrorist threats, even if those investigations intrude on personal privacy, while 34 percent say privacy should be the focus, regardless of the effect on such investigations."

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