Here’s How Much The Snowden Leaks Have Affected US Public Opinion

Here’s How Much The Snowden Leaks Have Affected US Public Opinion

How has your opinion on internet privacy changed since the first Snowden revelations appeared over a year ago? How concerned are you about corporations having your data forever? Your collective answers are what Pew sought in a recent survey of United States residents.

It’s been a media masterclass since those first days of leaked info in the Guardian. A steady, strategic drip of leaks ensured the issue was in the mainstream media every week, and not even international crises like ISIS could stop it.

As a result, 43% of American adults have heard “a lot” about the issue, and 44% have heard “a little”. How has that shaped their opinion?

One of the bigger findings is that 91% of adults in the survey “agree” or “strongly agree” that consumers have lost control over how personal information is collected and used by companies. 88% “agree” or “strongly agree” that it would be very difficult to remove inaccurate information about them online. And 70% of social media users say they are at least somewhat concerned about the government accessing some of the information they share on social networking sites without their knowledge.

A 62% majority of adults surveyed believe it’s not a good thing if people believe someone is keeping an eye on what they do online. The more educated you are, the more likely you are to have a problem with surveillance — though, surprisingly, adults over the age of 50 are less likely to see surveillance as beneficial than younger adults.

Finally, adults who have heard more about government surveillance are more likely to think such oversight could have drawbacks: Just 23% of adults who have heard “a lot” about the NSA revelations think online surveillance is good for society, compared with 46% of those who have heard less about the NSA revelations.

Here’s another big one: Less than 18% of adults surveyed believe the government in Washington can be trusted to to the right thing. The majority of Americans believe they’ve lost control over how their information is collected, and support more regulation of advertisers.

I’d be interested to see how these results would vary, if at all, with an Australian version of the same poll. We have a different media situation down here, but similar issues with upcoming mandatory data retention. Though, there’s always the added factor that we’re not exactly the pack leader in the information-sharing Five Eyes network.

You can read a lot more about the Pew findings here.

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