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Poll: Most Americans Disapprove Of Gov’t Monitoring Ordinary Citizens

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) – The findings of a recent poll conducted by CBS News indicate that the majority of Americans do not approve of the government monitoring the phone records of ordinary citizens.

The poll, which involved 1,015 Americans throughout the country being interviewed over the telephone earlier this month, found that 58 percent of the country views the recently exposed practices of the National Security Agency negatively, while only 38 percent are in favor of it.

The same number of Americans listed concerns regarding loss of privacy as a primary factor in their sentiments regarding the NSA’s activities.

Disapproval was especially high among Republicans. A reported 66 percent of them expressed disapproval of the government collecting phone records of ordinary Americans. Conversely, Democrats were said to be split evenly on the matter, with 48 percent voicing both support and opposition to the measure.

Last week, Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on April 25 issued an order granting the NSA permission to collect telephone records of millions of Verizon customers. The order was good until July 19, the newspaper said.

The order requires Verizon, one of the nation’s largest telecommunications companies, on an “ongoing, daily basis” to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the U.S. and between the U.S. and other countries.

The phone records monitoring program in which the NSA gathers hundreds of millions of U.S. phone records each day, creating a database through which it can learn whether terror suspects have been in contact with people in the U.S. The Obama administration says the NSA program does not listen to actual conversations.

Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old intelligence contractor who worked at the National Security Agency and the CIA, allowed himself to be revealed Sunday as the source of disclosures about the U.S. government’s secret surveillance programs, risking prosecution by the U.S. government.

The Guardian was also behind releasing the identity of Snowden at his own request.

“My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them,” Snowden told the newspaper.

The CBS News poll also showed Americans to be far more sympathetic to governmental monitoring of terrorist suspects as 75 percent of people in the United States said they supported such activity, in fact.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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