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Poll: Most Americans Are OK With Surveillance Cameras

By NPR Staff | 05/01/2013

A few polls following the twin bombings during the Boston Marathon paint a mixed picture of where the American public stands on privacy and security.

Today, a poll released by The New York Times and CBS News finds that 78 percent of "people said surveillance cameras were a good idea."

The Times reports:

"The receptiveness to cameras on street corners reflects a public that regards terrorism as a fact of life in the United States — nine out of 10 people polled said Americans would always have to live with the risk — but also a threat many believe the government can combat effectively though rigorous law enforcement and proper regulation.

"For all that confidence, there are lingering questions about the role of the nation's intelligence agencies before the attacks, with people divided about whether they had collected information that could have prevented them (41 percent said they had; 45 percent said they had not)."

Earlier this month, two other polls were released that touched on the same topic. Two days after the bombings, Fox News asked "Would you be willing to give up some of your personal freedom in order to reduce the threat of terrorism?"

Forty-three said yes; 45 percent said no. This is first time the negatives were greater than the positives since the question was asked after the attacks of Sept. 11.

A Washington Post poll released on April 18 asked Americans what worried them more: "that the government (will not go far enough to investigate terrorism because of concerns about constitutional rights), or that it (will go too far in compromising constitutional rights in order to investigate terrorism)?"

Forty-one percent said they were more worried the government would not go far enough; 48 percent said they worried it would go too far.

In 2010, 63 percent said they worried Obama would not go far enough, but in 2006, 48 percent said the same of George Bush.
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