News / USA

US Public Split Over NSA Surveillance

US Public Split Over NSA Surveillancei
X
July 12, 2013 12:01 AM
An Internet privacy group has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to look into the government’s surveillance of phone records over the past seven years. Polls show Americans are divided over this issue. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has this report.
An Internet privacy group has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to look into the government’s surveillance of phone records over the past seven years. Polls show Americans are divided over this issue. 
 
The American public is split over whether the National Security Agency, or NSA, should continue phone and email surveillance to stop terrorists.
 
Some say the concerns are overblown; others maintain that what people do in the privacy of their homes and on the Internet should be their business and nobody else's.
 
A recent Quinnipiac survey shows a reversal in public opinion. Three years ago, Americans overwhelmingly supported anti-terrorism actions over civil liberties. Pollster Peter Brown says a slight majority now think those efforts are eroding freedoms.
 
"That’s a really big change and it’s significant,” says Brown.
 
But other polls show a majority of Americans - 58 percent - support the government’s collection of telephone and Internet data. The basic questions are these - is the surveillance relevant to a terrorist investigation? And, does the government monitor actual conversations and emails, or just look at who's involved? 
 
Some argue it is not content but just metadata that is being collected by the government, and that it is not accurate to classify these activities as surveillance.
 
Others insist that people should decide for themselves whether to regard these efforts as surveillance or not.
 
Gary Schmitt studies security issues for the American Enterprise Institute. He supports NSA actions.
 
“It’s a difficult task because you have to collect an immense amount of data to stay ahead of the terrorist.”
 
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in Washington decides how far the government can go, and the NSA must first make its argument in this court before listening to phone calls involving an American.
 
This, says Schmitt, prevents overreach.

“There are these kinds of layers of scrutiny that they go forward and the court again has the final say into whether there’s enough info relevant to particular case to a particular person.”
 
But the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) says the court went too far when it made the Verizon Communications company provide its phone records on all Americans. EPIC filed an emergency petition to the U.S. Supreme Court to stop the NSA’s surveillance.
 
Alan Butler is EPIC’s attorney.
 
“Our contention is it’s not possible that all call records of all Americans held by Verizon are relevant to an investigation.”
 
It’s not known if the Supreme Court will take up the case. In the meantime, Americans will continue to debate whether NSA surveillance goes too far.

Carolyn Presutti

Carolyn Presutti is an Emmy and Silver World Medal award winning television correspondent who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters.   She has also won numerous Associated Press awards and a Clarion for her coverage of The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, and The 9/11 Bombing Anniversary.  In 2013, Carolyn aired exclusive stories on the Asiana plane crash and was named VOA’s chief reporter with Google Glass.

You can follow Carolyn on Twitter at CarolynVOA, on Google Plus and Facebook.

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid