Wednesday, December 13, 2006 - The Progress & Freedom Foundation Blog

Are Americans Too Paranoid about Their Privacy?

A poll out today from the Washington Post finds that two-thirds of Americans believe their government is spying on them. Specifically, the poll asked if the FBI and other agencies are "intruding on some Americans' privacy rights" in terrorism investigations. 66% said YES, up from 58% in a poll taken in September 2003. The Post poll also found that "Support for intrusive tactics has dropped even more significantly during that time. A bare majority, 51 percent, feel the tactics are justified, down from 63 percent three years ago." And you might recall that an earlier privacy poll conducted by CNN & Gallop in February of this year found that 21% of Americans think federal agents have listened in on their phone calls!

Are we Americans too paranoid? I don't know, but I think it's generally a good thing that so many people are skeptical about their government's actions. Of course, I do not for one minute think that 21% of Americans actually have their phones tapped right now. Just do the math on that. In a nation of 300 million that would mean our government is tapping 63 million phones. I sincerely doubt our government is big enough or competent enough to tap 63 million phones at once and process all that information.

Regardless, it's good that citizens are skeptical and vigilant about the liberty and privacy rights.

posted by Adam Thierer @ 10:10 AM | Privacy