If it's in the News, it's in our Polls. Public opinion polling since 2003.


Monday, February 22, 2016

What America Thinks: Security Trumps Privacy

Apple CEO Tim Cook last week refused to help the FBI decrypt the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino, California terrorist killers, citing potential privacy violations that could extend to all of Apple’s customers. But is personal privacy more important to Americans than protecting themselves from a terrorist attack? We decided to find out what America thinks.

Americans value and protect their privacy, but the number of U.S. voters who now think terrorists are winning the war on terror is near an 11-year high. Just 33% believe the United States is safer today than it was before the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. That ties the highest level of worry since Rasmussen Reports first began regular surveying of this question in November 2006.

This helps explain why 59% of voters think protecting the United States from a possible terrorist attack is more important than protecting the privacy of most Americans. Just 32% feel protecting privacy is more important. Voters supported security over privacy even more strongly last May after a federal appeals court ruled that the National Security Agency’s secret mass collection of Americans’ phone records was illegal. But security always has come out on top even back in late 2014 when the extent of the NSA’s spying on Americans was just starting to come to light.

For Rasmussen Reports, I’m Alex Boyer. Remember, if it’s in the news, it’s in our polls.