Constitutional Law

Americans don't want more government monitoring of cellphones and email to fight terror, survey says

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After the 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City and the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, more than half of the Americans responding to polls were willing to give up some civil liberties in exchange for greater security.

But a poll taken a few weeks after the Boston Marathon bombings shows the tide of public opinion has turned. Despite increased concern that terrorism could affect their families, less than half of those responding to an April 30 poll for CNN/Time magazine administered by ORC International wanted to trade civil liberties for stronger security measures. And, in particular, surveyed individuals were concerned about protecting the privacy of their cellphones and email, CNN reports.

“After 9/11, 54 percent of Americans favored expanded government monitoring of cellphones and email. Now, the message is ‘hands off,’ ” said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “Only 38 percent favor expanding government monitoring of those forms of communication.”

Meanwhile, an annual Electronic Frontier Foundation report (PDF) published Tuesday says many major Internet and tech companies could do more to help safeguard user privacy, ZDNet reports.

See also:

ABA Journal: “Unlikely allies join in a push to require warrants for access to digital communications”

MSNBC: “Email becomes new frontier in privacy fight”

Future Tense (Slate): “Face-Off Over Warrantless Cellphone Tracking at House Judiciary Committee Hearing”

Wired: “Texas judge blocks FBI’s webcam-controlling malware”

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