Morning Joe
updated 5/2/2013 4:50:58 PM ET 2013-05-02T20:50:58

Americans do not want government listening in to their cell phone conversations, according to a new poll, but they're OK being recorded on video in public.

Even after the bombing last month at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, Americans say they are more concerned about their civil liberties than curbing terrorism, a new CNN/Time/ORC poll found.

Americans are particularly worried about the government spying on their digital communications: 59% oppose email and cell phone surveillance, up 13% from 2006. They might not want to be heard, but they’re OK being seen: Popular opinion has swelled particularly in favor of expanded camera surveillance—something that was key to the investigation of the Boston bombing. Up 11 points from 2006, 81% of Americans were in favor of expanded camera surveillance.

Sixty-one percent of Americans say they are more concerned the government will enact policies that restrict civil liberties—nearly double the 31% who are more worried the government won’t enact terror-preventing policies. But when asked, majorities of Americans also favored law enforcement monitoring of online chat rooms and forums and facial-recognition scanning at public events.

More Americans may favor protecting civil liberties over anti-terror policies because more Americans, 63%, actually believe terrorists will find a way to launch a major attack no matter what government does, compared to 32% who disagree.

“I find it really heartening, this poll. There was a period after 9/11 where people where in a totally justified state of concern over the safety of the homeland, there were a lot of things done in the name of counter-terrorism that were pretty violent of civil liberties,” New York Magazine writer John Heilemann said on Morning Joe. “People are much more focused on the notion that there is a balance that needs to be struck, they’re not just willing to give up all their civil liberties for the ostensible claim of homeland security. That’s a good tension to have.”

The poll was based off of 606 interviews with Americans via landlines and cell phones. It has a margin of error of +/-4%.


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