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Voters Think Google, Facebook Spy More Than Government

Friday, November 21, 2014

When it comes to your privacy, which worries you more – the government or your search engine?

Several major technology companies like Google, Apple and Facebook supported a recently blocked bill in the U.S. Senate that would have placed tighter restrictions on the National Security Agency’s collection of phone records, but 47% of Likely U.S. voters think such companies are more likely than the government to be monitoring their personal communications and Internet activity. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 32% think the federal government is more likely to be keeping tabs on them. Twenty-one percent (21%) are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Those under 40 are more suspicious of the government than their elders are, but even younger voters by a 44% to 38% margin think major tech companies are tracking their activity more.

Still, 74% of all voters think it’s likely that the NSA phone and e-mail surveillance programs have inappropriately violated the privacy of innocent Americans, including 43% who say that’s Very Likely.

Generally speaking, Americans are confident in the privacy of their own Internet communications but still agree it's no longer possible to guarantee complete online privacy.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on November 18-19, 2014 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

At a time when more voters than ever see a terrorist attack as the biggest threat to the nation, 57% of voters believe protecting the country from a possible terrorist attack is more important than protecting the privacy of most Americans.

Republicans and Democrats are more likely than voters not affiliated with either political party to think large technology companies are monitoring personal communications more than the government is.

Voters who favor the NSA’s tracking of phone calls and e-mails made by millions of Americans think large technology companies do more spying than the government does by a 52% to 33% margin. Those who oppose the NSA’s activities are more closely divided, but a slight plurality (43%) still thinks companies like Google and Facebook are tracking Americans more.

Fifty-four percent (54%) of all voters consider the federal government today a threat to individual liberty rather than a protector. Just 22% see the government as a protector of their individual rights.

Eighty-five percent (85%) of Americans believe wearable computers like Google Glass are likely to violate the privacy of others 

Following the death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in Octoberr 2011, 62% said they or a family member owned one of the company's products such as an iPod, iPad or Mac computer.

In March 2012, 31% said Facebook is bad for society, and 33% said employers should be allowed to fire employees for posting inappropriate comments or content on their Facebook pages. But most don't believe it is appropriate for employers or colleges to ask for access to an applicant's Facebook page.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only. 

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