Even in the aftermath of the recent NSA scandal, the American public still cannot make up their mind on whether or not they mind being watched by the government.
Polling agencies, such as the Pew Research Center and Gallup, found disparate results depending on how they worded the question. As it turns out, Americans are more likely to support the NSA if they know why the government is reading their emails.
In a recent survey, the Pew Research Center changed their language while polling Americans about the NSA surveillance program. Results showed that when the question mentioned anti-terrorism efforts those surveyed were nine percent more likely to support the NSA surveillance program. Similarly, if the question mentioned that the surveillance occurred “with court approval,” support amongst those surveyed was twelve points higher.
Americans were more comfortable with their government collecting “metadata,” rather than collecting recordings of phone calls or text of e-mails.
The Pew survey tested a number of wordings of the same question, and overall those surveyed were more comfortable with the government collecting “metadata from nearly all communications in the U.S with court approval as part of anti-terrorism efforts,” and least comfortable with “recordings/text of nearly all communications in the U.S.”
When terrorism was mentioned, an added amount of both Republicans and Democrats approved of the NSA surveillance program.
But, under every condition and wording of the question, more people disapproved of the program rather than approve of it. The highest approval rating the NSA received was 41 percent, and the lowest approval rate was 16 percent.