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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Poll: majority view Snowden as whistleblower; most think domestic spying goes too far

Bloomberg News: A majority of U.S. registered voters consider Edward Snowden a whistle-blower, not a traitor, and a plurality says government anti-terrorism efforts have gone too far in restricting civil liberties, a poll released today shows.

Fifty-five percent said Snowden was a whistle-blower in leaking details about top-secret U.S. programs that collect telephone and Internet data, in the survey from Hamden, Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University. Thirty-four percent said he’s a traitor. Snowden, 30, worked for McLean, Virginia-based federal contractor Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp. (BAH)

The poll also showed that by 45 percent to 40 percent, respondents said the government goes too far in restricting civil liberties as part of the war on terrorism. That was a reversal from January 2010, when in a similar survey 63 percent said anti-terrorism activities didn’t go far enough to protect the U.S. from attacks, compared with 25 percent who disagreed.

“The massive swing in public opinion about civil liberties and governmental anti-terrorism efforts, and the public view that Edward Snowden is more whistle-blower than traitor, are the public reaction and apparent shock at the extent to which the government has gone in trying to prevent future terrorist incidents,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of Quinnipiac’s polling institute.
"The view of Snowden as a whistle-blower rather than traitor predominated among almost every group of respondents broken down by party, gender, income, education and age," according the the report. “Black voters were the lone exception, with 43 percent calling Snowden a traitor compared with 42 percent saying he was a whistle-blower."

The “exception" of black voters is entirely theoretical here, since the 1% difference is well within the margin of error. On that point, it’s probably truer to say the poll is inconclusive.

The fact that a majority doesn’t see the danger in government snooping is depressing, but it’s nice to know the shift is moving in that direction. As I’ve pointed out before, you may trust Pres. Obama with the information gained through the massive data collection Snowden revealed, but he’s not the only one you should be worried about. He’s not going to be president forever, that data will be around until it’s destroyed, and a lot of people other than the president have access to it. It’s not just a system that lends itself to abuse, it’s a system that’s begging for it.

It’s good to know that more and more people are realizing that.

[photo by stevendepolo]

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