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Who Supports NSA Surveillance and Who Doesn't

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Americans of different ages don't agree about government surveillance of their telephone and online communications, two new polls show.

When it comes to the National Security Agency's collecting and analyzing Americans' phone records, 56 percent of adults of all ages support the idea. Those 50 to 64 are right in line with their younger counterparts, but those 65 and older are slightly more likely (61 percent) to support the idea. That's according to a poll from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press and the Washington Post, released June 10.

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A different gap appears when people are asked the following question about the collection of data from email and social networks: Do you think the government should be able to monitor everyone's email and other online activities if officials say this might prevent future terrorist attacks?

About 45 percent of those ages 18 to 49 say it's OK. The percentage of those who find the practice acceptable dips to 39 percent among ages 50 to 64 but jumps to 55 percent in the 65-plus group.


But what may be most interesting about the Pew poll is that nearly three times as many people 50 and older say they are "closely following" the news about government data collection and online tracking than those 18 to 29. At 12 percent, the youngest group appears to barely notice the fuss.

A second poll - from Huffington Post and YouGov - finds that about double the number of those 45 and older are following closely the story of government collection of phone records compared with those 18 to 29.

In that poll, a majority of every age group believes that collecting and analyzing such records is "an unnecessary intrusion." More of those 65-plus (51 percent) disagree with the statement.

What's your opinion about what the numbers mean? Where do you fit in? Weigh in below in our comments section.

  • Do young people who spend more of their lives online value privacy there more than older people?
  • Are complicated stories about national security too involved for those who have given up newspapers and get much of their information from their friends through platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and outlets like The Daily Show and the The Onion?
  • When this kind of news breaks, are older people more likely to give the government the benefit of the doubt?


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