Privacy vs. Security: New AP Poll Ten Years after 9/11

5:00 PM, Sep 6, 2011   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) -- A majority of Americans say they're okay with sacrificing some privacy at airports and on the Metro, but not when it comes to their personal phone calls or emails. That's according to a new Associate Press poll out Tuesday ahead of the ten-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Fifty eight percent of the people polled said they support random searches of airplane passengers, but only 35% support any racial or ethnic profiling. Public support gets even smaller when it comes to government surveillance of emails and phone calls. Just 30% of the people polled say the government should be able to monitor emails inside the U.S. without a warrant, and only 23% support similar government surveillance of phone calls.

"I think what the American public is saying is that they don't like these fishing expeditions," said Marc Rotenberg with the Electronic Privacy Information Center. "I think we still have a strong sense that if the government is going to investigate somebody they should have a good reason to do that."

RELATED: How 9/11 Changed America

According to the poll, 64% of Americans concede that it is sometimes necessary to sacrifice personal freedoms to fight terrorism. But if they had to chose between the two, more than half say they would pick preserving their civil liberties.

"I think the bottom line is that there is an important message here that Americans for the most part are not prepared to give up their freedoms in this war on terrorism," said Rotenberg.

The poll was conducted over a two week period in early August. More than 1,000 adults were interviewed nationwide.

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