Update: According to a Rasmussen survey published on Tuesday, January 21, 68 percent believe NSA phone spying will stay the same or increase.According to a
recent survey conducted by USA Today and the Pew Research Center, a slight majority of Americans oppose the collection of communication metadata -- phone and Internet data -- by the NSA and the national intelligence community. The number of Americans who support data collection has dropped to 40 percent.
This is a notable decline from 2013. In July, a similar survey found that 50 percent of survey takers supported the NSA's anti-terrorism efforts while 44 percent were opposed.
What the survey results do show is that Americans are still mostly divided on the subject. While 53 percent is a slight majority, it is important to consider the margin of error. Forty percent said they support data collection, but that still leaves a percentage of Americans who are undecided -- who are not sure what to think.
For many, it is not a simple issue. Since September 11, Americans have been willing to turn a blind eye to some programs that expand the reach of government because they take comfort in the fact that these programs are being conducted in the name of stopping terrorism. It makes them feel safe.
However, after Edward Snowden leaked classified information detailing the extent of NSA data collection and the agency's surveillance programs, the skeletons in the intelligence community's massive walk-in closet were put on display for the nation -- as well as the entire world. While domestic spying scandals are nothing new to American politics, these controversies are not so easily swept under the rug to be forgotten.
There is a real violation of civil liberties in question with these programs and while the pursuit may be in the name of the greater good, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
On Friday, President Barack Obama unveiled new reforms with a promise to Americans and the world that the U.S. would do better. While some may have been satisfied with the president's outline, it remains to be seen if any efforts at reform are actually pursued. The president, after all, promised to be the head of the most transparent administration in United States history during his 2008 inaugural address, but has since gone in the opposite direction.
Photo Credit: The New York Post