Most Americans back the federal government's tracking of telephone records in an attempt to catch terrorist activity and believe it should place greater priority on investigating possible threats to national security than on protecting personal privacy, according to a new survey.
The new Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll
, released Monday, comes amid revelations that the National Security Agency conducted extended surveillance of telecommunications data to help with terrorism investigations.
Overall, the survey found that 56 percent of Americans consider the NSA accessing telephone call records of millions of Americans through secret court orders "acceptable," while 41 percent call the practice "unacceptable."
But it also showed that sentiment on the issue has shifted along party lines since 2006, when the NSA activity under the George W. Bush administration was first reported.
At that time, 37 percent of Democrats found the agency's activities acceptable, compared to 64 percent who now say the use of telephone records is okay. By contrast, 75 percent of Republicans found such activity acceptable in 2006 while 52 percent characterize it as such today.
The poll was conducted June 6-9 among a random national sample of 1,004 adults. There is a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
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