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US, EU Citizens Reject Unchecked Spying

As Snowden revelations continue, poll shows opposition to dragnet surveillance on both sides of the Atlantic

Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

A majority of Europeans and Americans are strongly opposed to their governments' covert surveillance of their own residents and those of allied countries, according to a recent poll that comes as spying revelations brought to light by Edward Snowden continue to shock the world.

According to a survey, conducted by the U.S.-based think-tank the German Marshall Fund of the United States, far more citizens disapprove of the dragnet spying techniques of their governments than those that approve—with the most overwhelming figures coming from Germany.

In response to the question “Do you think the [own country] government is justified in collecting the telephone and internet data of its citizens as part of the effort to protect national security, or do you think this activity goes too far in violating citizens’ privacy and is therefore not justified?” 70 percent of Germans said their government is not justified. Only twenty-five percent disagreed.

And, as Reuters reports, "Germans were even more hostile to governments collecting the telephone and internet data of people from allied countries, with 72 percent opposed and 20 percent in favor."

Meanwhile, 54 percent of those polled in the U.S. said the U.S. government should not spy on its own citizens. And 44 percent opposed spying on the citizens of allied countries with 33 percent saying it was justified.

Similar numbers came from the U.K.. Forty-four percent said their government's spying agency, the GCHQ, is not justified in spying on U.K. citizens, while 33 percent did not. Forty-three percent said their government shouldn't spy on allied citizens.

Similar results emerged from Sweden and France, where a majority polled in favor of curbing unchecked spying at home and around the world.

However, the U.S. shows no signs of slowing down its dragnet surveillance policies, despite ongoing domestic and international uproar. As the New York Times reported last week, after more than six months of NSA revelations showing the vast reach of the spying agency, "President Obama and his top advisers have concluded that there is no workable alternative to the bulk collection of huge quantities of 'metadata,' including records of all telephone calls made inside the United States."


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