Do Americans Like Big Facebook Enough to Embrace Big Brother?

None

Demonstrators hold up a placard in support of former US agent of the National Security Agency, Edward Snowden in front of Berlin's landmark Brandenburg Gate as they take part in a protest against the U.S. National Security Agency.
National Journal
Dustin Volz
Nov. 6, 2013, 3:28 p.m.

Five years ago, Face­book founder Mark Zuck­er­berg pre­dicted that as people be­came more and more de­pend­ent on so­cial me­dia and on­line com­mu­nic­a­tions, they would have few­er and few­er con­cerns about per­son­al pri­vacy.

“I would ex­pect that next year, people will share twice as much in­form­a­tion as they share this year, and next year, they will be shar­ing twice as much as they did the year be­fore,” Zuck­er­berg said in 2008.

A re­cent poll by Gal­lup seems to sug­gest Zuck­er­berg was right, though at least one pri­vacy ex­pert ques­tions the find­ings of the sur­vey con­duc­ted last month, in the midst of grow­ing rev­el­a­tions about the broad reach of Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Agency sur­veil­lance.

Gal­lup found that only 35 per­cent of In­ter­net users are “very con­cerned” about the gov­ern­ment’s abil­ity to mon­it­or their In­ter­net activ­it­ies, com­pared with 47 per­cent in 2000 — a year be­fore the Sept. 11 ter­ror­ist at­tacks.

The find­ings are sur­pris­ing in the wake of the NSA spy­ing scan­dal, and are par­tic­u­larly not­able giv­en that a sep­ar­ate Gal­lup Poll last month showed that Amer­ic­ans are en­gaged in a love fest with the In­ter­net, with even seni­or cit­izens go­ing on­line in un­pre­ced­en­ted num­bers. The poll found that 87 per­cent of Amer­ic­ans per­son­ally use the In­ter­net — up from 69 per­cent in 2002 — and the num­ber of users age 65 and older jumped 32 per­cent­age points over the past 11 years.

So how much does wired Amer­ica really care about gov­ern­ment snoop­ing?

“There’s more un­der­stand­ing now of how the tech­no­logy works and what you’re get­ting from it,” ar­gued Mi­chael Beck­er­man, pres­id­ent and CEO of the In­ter­net As­so­ci­ation, which rep­res­ents the biggest In­ter­net com­pan­ies. “People are us­ing it in a dif­fer­ent way and are more com­fort­able with it in their lives.”

Of course, that’s true of vir­tu­ally every ser­i­ous tech­no­lo­gic­al ad­vance dat­ing back to the wheel. But Beck­er­man said the trend folds in­to a lar­ger story about shift­ing at­ti­tudes on na­tion­al se­cur­ity, point­ing to changes post-9/11 that are now routine but at one time were un­con­scion­able, like full-body searches at the air­port.

Mark Jay­cox, a policy ana­lyst with the Elec­tron­ic Fron­ti­er Found­a­tion, which is lob­by­ing for sur­veil­lance re­form, said he thinks the In­ter­net’s per­vas­ive­ness has only in­creased pri­vacy con­cerns.

“People will al­ways want and have a need for private space,” Jay­cox said. “Just be­cause the In­ter­net fa­cil­it­ates pub­lic out­flow of in­form­a­tion doesn’t mean there’s a co­rol­lary that people aren’t wor­ried about their on­line pri­vacy.”

Jay­cox ques­tioned Gal­lup’s polling data, and poin­ted to oth­er polls show­ing most Amer­ic­ans op­pose the NSA’s sweep­ing data-col­lec­tion pro­grams.

But op­pos­ing a spe­cif­ic pro­gram and ac­qui­es­cing to the new real­it­ies of a di­git­al age are not one and the same. In fact, sev­er­al polls in­dic­ate that a “not­able minor­ity” of Amer­ic­ans be­lieve the gov­ern­ment is do­ing more to vi­ol­ate their di­git­al pri­vacy than it really is — at least more than what has been di­vulged so far — and are still tol­er­ant in gen­er­al of sur­veil­lance, said Lee Rain­ie, dir­ect­or of the Pew Re­search Cen­ter’s In­ter­net Pro­ject. It’s the “I sus­pect the worst, and I’m still OK with it” caucus, he ad­ded.

“Resig­na­tion doesn’t show up very much” in polling data, Rain­ie said. “But there are def­in­itely signs that people are think­ing about tradeoffs.”

The polls by Gal­lup were both con­duc­ted Oct. 3-6 and both have mar­gins of er­ror of plus or minus 4 per­cent­age points. The poll on pri­vacy con­cerns sur­veyed 887 In­ter­net users and the poll on In­ter­net us­age was con­duc­ted among 1,028 adults.

What We're Following See More »
‘PULLING A TRUMP’
GOP Budget Chiefs Won’t Invite Administration to Testify
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

The administration will release its 2017 budget blueprint tomorrow, but the House and Senate budget committees won’t be inviting anyone from the White House to come talk about it. “The chairmen of the House and Senate Budget committees released a joint statement saying it simply wasn’t worth their time” to hear from OMB Director Shaun Donovan. Accusing the members of pulling a “Donald Trump,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the move “raises some questions about how confident they are about the kinds of arguments that they could make.”

Source:
A DARK CLOUD OVER TRUMP?
Snowstorm Could Impact Primary Turnout
1 days ago
THE LATEST

A snowstorm is supposed to hit New Hampshire today and “linger into Primary Tuesday.” GOP consultant Ron Kaufman said lower turnout should help candidates who have spent a lot of time in the state tending to retail politicking. Donald Trump “has acknowledged that he needs to step up his ground-game, and a heavy snowfall could depress his figures relative to more organized candidates.”

Source:
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY
A Shake-Up in the Offing in the Clinton Camp?
20 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Anticipating a primary loss in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Hillary and Bill Clinton “are considering staffing and strategy changes” to their campaign. Sources tell Politico that the Clintons are likely to layer over top officials with experienced talent, rather than fire their staff en masse.

Source:
THE LAST ROUND OF NEW HAMPSHIRE POLLS
Trump Is Still Ahead, but Who’s in Second?
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

We may not be talking about New Hampshire primary polls for another three-and-a-half years, so here goes:

  • American Research Group’s tracking poll has Donald Trump in the lead with 30% support, followed by Marco Rubio and John Kasich tying for second place at 16%. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton 53%-41%.
  • The 7 News/UMass Lowell tracking poll has Trump way out front with 34%, followed by Rubio and Ted Cruz with 13% apiece. Among the Democrats, Sanders is in front 56%-40%.
  • A Gravis poll puts Trump ahead with 28%, followed by Kasich with 17% and Rubio with 15%.
×