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June 13, 2013

Poll: 85% of Americans expect snooping

Americans should hardly be surprised the government has access to their personal data, a new Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll revealed Thursday.

The poll shows "most Americans exhibit a healthy amount of skepticism and resignation about data collection and surveillance, and show varying degrees of trust in institutions to responsibly use their personal information. Recent headlines focusing on government collection of telephone records within the United States may further stoke the underlying worries that the American public has about data privacy."

The quarterly survey probes American attitudes and views on data collection, asking people "their impression of the likelihood that their personal information is available to the government, businesses, individuals, and other groups without their consent – and to what extent people believe they can control how much personal information is shared."

The survey found 85 percent thought their communications history, such as phone calls, emails and Internet use, are "accessible to the government, businesses, and others."

About two-thirds thoguht they had ittle or no control over the type of information that is collected and used by various groups and organizations.

The survey was conducted a few days before reports of top secret government spying programs. It showed 48 percent have "some" or a "great deal" of trust in the government when it comes to the use of their personal data. Similarly, cell phone and Internet service providers are trusted by just 48 percent of the public.

Most trustworthy institutions are healthcare providers and employers.

In addition, the polls found 0 percent supporting expanded government monitoring of phone and email activities.

"Rather," the survery said, "the public is more likely to favor increased use of camera surveillance of public places, with 44 percent supporting the measure, followed by 16 percent of respondents in favor of 'increased censorship of websites and less freedom to access sources on the Internet.'"

Forty-two percent opposed all three alternatives.

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