Americans Sharply Split on Privacy Issues

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Glenn Greenwald / Laura Poitras / The Guardian / Reuters

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, an analyst with a U.S. defence contractor, in his hotel room in Hong Kong, June 6, 2013.

The Edward Snowden leak case, which exposed some of the practical elements of NSA surveillance operations unknown to many Americans, has also revealed just how divided the nation remains over whether the government should be permitted to intrude on privacy to safeguard national security.

According to the Pew Research Center, 56% of Americans think the “NSA getting secret court orders to track calls of millions of Americans” is acceptable. For many, such intrusions are legitimate sacrifices if intelligence-gathering programs can held fend off terrorist threats. That surprises privacy experts. “The same people who are unwilling to trust the government in any other walk of life,” says Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Center at NYU’s Brennan Center for Progress, “are oddly willing to give absolute trust and control to the government on issues of national security.”

(MORE: The Surveillance Society)

There is also considerable dispute over the limits of our privacy rights. Many lawmakers believe the NSA’s monitoring programs are completely legal. Groups like the Electronic Information Privacy Center, a public interest research group that recently petitioned the Supreme Court to stop NSA collection of domestic telephone call data, hope to see the programs examined and struck down by the High Court, which could consider the challenge as soon as the fall.

Experts say the NSA’s collection of telephone metadata is the most worrisome of the revelations Snowden helped bring to light. While the PRISM program targets suspicious foreigners using sites like Google and Facebook, it is only supposed to pull Americans into the surveillance web if they are linked to those targets. The telephone metadata program requires Verizon, and likely many other cell phone carriers, to provide the NSA with all of its customer call detail records. Mark Rotenberg, the Executive Director of the Electronic Information Privacy Center (EPIC), a public interest research center that recently petitioned the Supreme Court to stop NSA collection of domestic telephone call data, wrote recently that this collection is the most significant of the programs revealed in the leaks.

The secrecy surrounding these surveillance programs means we don’t know exactly how much—or how little—privacy we have.  A secret court, which “operates without anyone representing the other side,” sanctions the NSA programs, says Goitein. “There’s really no appeal.”

Goitein predicts that as abuses come to light, conservatives who back the programs as mechanisms to stave off terrorism may “become less afraid of the original national security threat,” she says, “and more protective of their own civil liberties and their own privacy.”

(MORE: TIME’s full coverage on privacy)

13 comments
TenaciousJim
TenaciousJim

The order okaying this country wide no probable cause search warrant came from a low level Federal Judge.

I'm not completely against the wiretaps but as a Country we have an established order of how things are done and that includes appealing lower Court orders.  

How can you appeal a Court order that is secret?

rivers
rivers

indeed, there are nothing to talk about it. since the government take the responsibility to protect people from terrorist attacking ,without the telephone carrier information , how can the government  identify the possible risk and trouble. it is not possible to trace everyone privacy update, only trace on the suspect. but the truth is based on the range of privacy info monitoring, if it is larger than the relevant scope, it is an absolutely and explicitly privacy invasion 

LynnCopple
LynnCopple

uptil I looked at the bank draft 4 $5872, I accept ...that...my cousin woz like they say realie bringing in money part time on there computar.. there uncle had bean doing this for less than 11 months and recently took care of the morgage on there villa and got a top of the range Lotus Elan. this is where I went, buzz90.com

Heizzzenberg
Heizzzenberg

While I would never join in the actual pitchfork/riot type of rebellion (I'm a peaceful warrior)...hopefully it'll reach that point one day, and when a scared recently tar/feathered politician runs up to my doorstep begging for help, I can smirk, turn my back, and promptly slam the door in his/her face. Keep it up Washington, eventually this stuff will catch up with you... 

jonjojr
jonjojr

Folks of course TIME is gonna spin this as a good thing.  remember these articles comes from writers that usually Tweet drone strikes to other people.

bernardlaborie
bernardlaborie

If 56% of Americans do not object to the NSA ease dropping on all forms of communications, I just have one thing to say! America, you're stupid!

JohnDavidDeatherage
JohnDavidDeatherage

This is less about National Security and more about national control....

kpg1969kpg
kpg1969kpg

it is ok to have less privacy to gain more security, not only for yourself, family but the nation you love!

RudyHaugeneder
RudyHaugeneder

Danger. Danger. Speaking from north of the border, I'm afraid our Conservative government and its federal security apparatus, including the federal police (the RCMP and the Security Intelligence Services), are tethered to the NSA and jointly operate similar and total anti-democratic surveillance on ordinary Canadian citizens -- perhaps all of us.

FrankSilvera
FrankSilvera

The President recently commented on this issue stating: "You cannot have 100% security with 100% privacy". 

He was wrong...You cannot have ANY security with 100% privacy.

bernardlaborie
bernardlaborie

@kpg1969kpg 

you have to be kidding me! Go travel and see how much safer places like New Zealand, Iceland, Denmark, Germany are......they don't have the police state America is becoming. We are becoming a third world nation!


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