Poll: Majority oppose NSA, Obama's address had little impact
January 20th, 2014
04:54 PM ET
11 months ago

Poll: Majority oppose NSA, Obama's address had little impact

(CNN) – President Barack Obama's proposed reforms to the National Security Agency have done little to change public opinion about its controversial telephone metadata collection practices, with a new national survey showing a majority of Americans oppose the agency's collection programs.

A Pew Research Center/USA Today poll released Monday indicates that half of respondents have not heard anything about the President's proposed changes. Forty-one percent said they were somewhat familiar with the reforms and only 8% said they had heard a lot.

Fifty-three percent of respondents disapprove of the NSA's collection of telephone and internet data in anti-terrorism efforts.

Last Friday in a speech at the Justice Department, Obama unveiled new guidance for intelligence-gathering as well as reforms intended to balance what he called the nation's vital security needs with concerns over privacy and civil liberties.

For those who had heard about the proposed changes to the intelligence agency's data collect program, 73% said the adjustments would not make a difference in protecting people's privacy. Seventy-nine percent of respondents also said the adjustments would not make it more difficult for the NSA to fight terrorism.

Intelligence leaks from former government contractor Edward Snowden last summer brought the NSA's surveillance program under national scrutiny, prompting the Obama administration's proposed reforms to the agency.

Since the Snowden disclosure, views of the agency have fallen ten points, from 50% in July to 40% in Monday's survey. Last summer, more Americans approved of the agency than disapproved, 50% to 44%. Now, sentiments have flipped with less than half, 40%, approving and 53% disapproving of the agency's collection practices.

Forty-eight percent of respondents said there should be more limits on the government collection of data while 41% said there already are sufficient limits in place.

While the survey as a whole was conducted from January 15-19, questions about the President's changes to the NSA were only asked after Obama's address on January 17. Overall public opinion of the NSA did not change throughout the course of the survey before and after Obama's speech.

According to the poll, the public is divided over the effect of Snowden's leaks, with 45% saying the disclosures have served the public interested and 43% saying they were harmful. The survey also indicates that 56% of Americans want a criminal case brought against Snowden.

The full Pew Research Center survey was conducted from January 15-19 with telephone interviews from 1,504 adults and has a sampling error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.


Filed under: NSA • Obama administration
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ lee&rubio 24billion dallar LOSS of your tax money conservatives,the garbage of America.

    Another unreliable CNN poll, Romney won right????

    January 21, 2014 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  2. A True Conservative

    The One has spoken – so it shall be! What don't you people against Obama get?

    January 21, 2014 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  3. PaulG

    Americans still value their rights, imagine that...

    January 21, 2014 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
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