Pew Surveys Americans on Privacy in the Post-Snowden Era
November 14, 2014
November 14, 2014
While there’s no direct mention of a right to privacy in the U.S. Constitution, Americans view privacy as a right. Some believe the government has no right to infringe on a woman’s reproductive choices; others believe the government has no right to know or to limit the number of firearms a person owns. In the post-9/11 world, Americans were more comfortable giving up some civil liberties in order to make the nation safer.
Twelve years later, Edward Snowden, a National Security Agency contractor, began leaking information about the government’s extensive collection of data on all Americans in June 2013. PewResearch is out with a new survey of the American public’s perception of privacy more than a year after Snowden blew the lid of the NSA’s domestic wiretapping program.
PewResearch shares some topline results:
The report didn’t even directly touch on the long string of corporate data breaches in the past year.
Clearly, Americans feel that privacy is an increasingly elusive right. But they’re not yet willing to lock down their information entirely. More than half of those surveyed (55%) say they’re willing to share information with companies in order to have access to free online services. (Come back off the ledge, Google and Facebook.)
With the furious pace of technological innovation and the glacial pace of the federal government, it’s easy to wonder if our elected officials will ever manage to create laws that establish some ground rules for privacy expectations in the era of big data. Given the picture of a skittish population the PewResearch report paints, it appears Washington should get to work.