Bug Foreigners, not Americans

June 11, 2013, 4:59 PM GMT+0

Most Americans oppose the government recording information about domestic phone calls, but are more accepting of international phone surveillance.

Last Thursday The Guardian revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) had been collecting and keeping the 'metadata' of every phone call made by Verizon customers. Metadata does not include the content of the phone call itself, but it does reveal who is calling who, when the phone call happened and how long it lasted.

The latest YouGov research shows that 58% of Americans oppose recording the metadata of every domestic phone call, but only 35% oppose recording the metadata of all international calls. Only 26% of people support recording the metadata of all domestic calls.

A similar divide between domestic and international calls can be seen when people were asked about recording the content of some, but not all, calls. 52% said that it was wrong for the government to listen in and record some domestic calls, but only 32% think that it would be wrong to do the same with international calls.

There isn't a major partisan divide when asked about most forms of surveillance, though Democrats (37%) are more likely than Republicans (21%) to support recording metadata on all domestic calls. Major partisan divides do begin to reveal themselves when people are asked about the behaviour of particular presidents. Asked about the actions of President George W. Bush, Democrats (40%) and Independents (40%) are likely to say that he 'went too far' in domestic surveillance for counter-terror reasons, while Republicans (63%) tend to say President Bush acted correctly.

When asked about President Barack Obama, the partisan tables turn. Despite overall policies being largely similar, 47% of Democrats now say that Barack Obama has acted 'about right', while 52% of Independents and 68% of Republicans say that he has gone 'too far'.