Welcome!

News Feed Item

Americans Favor Safety Over Privacy, Though Majority Recognize Need for Balance

Americans are more sensitive when it comes to searches of their personal electronics than other personal effects

NEW YORK, Aug. 5, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The right to privacy (or lack thereof) and the protection from unreasonable searches have been under increased discussion over the past year, triggered, in part, by revelations of widespread NSA surveillance practices. While online privacy has been the latest front in this battle, Americans continue to have widely diverse opinions on what level of privacy they're guaranteed in a variety of settings and while under various types of suspicion.   

Harris Poll Logo

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,286 adults surveyed online between May 14 and 19, 2014. This look at the Fourth Amendment is part of an ongoing series examining American attitudes towards the Bill of Rights.

(To see the full results including data tables, click here)

Safety over privacy – to a point
When asked to weigh safety against privacy by means of a four-point scale, relatively low percentages of Americans chose either of the "absolute" perspectives – that either the privacy (13%) or safety (10%) of Americans is sacred, and should be maintained no matter what. The strongest percentage by far (51%) feels that safety is more important, though both should be considered in cases where they conflict, though it's worth noting that when adding in the 25% who favor privacy in this same moderate fashion, roughly three-fourths believe both should be considered in cases where they conflict. These perspectives hold across generational and political spectrums, though differences do emerge by gender. Men are more likely to favor privacy at both the absolute (sacred and should be maintained no matter what – 19% vs. 9%) and moderate (more important than safety, but both should be considered – 30% vs. 21%) levels, while women are more likely to feel that safety is more important, but that both should be considered (62% vs. 40%).

Pockets of privacy
But where can we expect a right to privacy, anyway? Strong majorities of Americans recognize that our homes in general (87%), our bodies (85%) and our bedrooms (82%) are subject to privacy rights, while six in ten (61%) believe our cars also are subject to the right to privacy. Just under half of Americans believe there is a right to privacy when they are a guest in a home (47%) or a passenger in a car (46%) and a third (34%) erroneously believe a locker (if in school) is legally private. Five percent (5%) of U.S. adults don't feel Americans have a right to privacy in any of these places.

  • Men are more likely than women to feel that cars are subject to an expectation of privacy (64% vs. 58%).
  • Looking across generations, Matures (58%) are more likely than either Millennials (43%) or Gen Xers (45%) to feel Americans have a legal right to privacy when they are guests in a home.

But constitutionally granted protections have limits, and there are grounds allowed by our laws to grant legal, enforceable searches. While the gold standard – as recognized by both our laws and by U.S. adults within this study – is a search warrant signed by a judge, many Americans feel some searches are permissible in other situations as well. Majorities of Americans feel that reasonable suspicion of a danger to public welfare justifies searching a student's locker (59%), personal effects such as a backpack or purse (56%), a vehicle in its entirety (55%) or specific parts of a vehicle (53%). Reasonable suspicion that something illegal will be found is seen by a majority of Americans as justifying searching a student's locker (55%).

Looking across the various places and possessions Americans were asked about in the course of this survey, it's worth noting that in most situations, personal electronics and online content are among those Americans most see as "protected," in that they are less likely to see most tested justifications as worthy of triggering a legal search.

When is suspicion "reasonable?"
But what is a "reasonable" suspicion, anyway? When presented with several situations and asked which constitute "reasonable suspicion" grounds for a legal search, responses varied greatly, with some grounds passing muster and others falling well short. Seven in ten U.S. adults (70%) see a sworn statement as passing the reasonable suspicion test, while nearly two-thirds say the same of erratic driving (65%) and six in ten say past conviction for a violent crime provides reasonable suspicion grounds (61%). Slimmer majorities say the same of evasive behavior (56%), records indicating contact with a criminal suspect (53%), and a past conviction for a drug-related crime (52%).

Minorities feel a reasonable suspicion can be justified via past suspicion of illegal activity (40%), an anonymous tip (29%), past conviction for a nonviolent crime (23%), or a minor automotive infraction (14%).

  • Matures (51%) are more likely than their younger counterparts (36% Millennials, 39% Gen Xers, 40% Baby Boomers) to see past suspicion of illegal activity as justifying a reasonable suspicion, while Millennials are more likely than their elders to say this of an anonymous tip (36% Millennials, 26% Gen Xers, 27% Baby Boomers, 22% Matures).
  • Women are more likely than men to see most of the hurdles tested as passing muster for reasonable suspicion, including past conviction for a violent crime (65% women vs. 56% men), records indicating contact with a criminal suspect (59% vs. 47%), and past suspicion of illegal activity (45% vs. 35%).
  • Looking at the issue across political lines, Republicans are more likely than either Democrats or Independents to see a sworn statement (78%, 69% and 68%, respectively) and records indicating contact with a criminal suspect (61%, 50% and 50%) as grounds for a reasonable suspicion. Republicans are also more likely than Democrats to feel evasive behavior (62% vs. 53%) is sufficient to pass this test.

To see other recent Harris Polls, please visit the Harris Poll News Room.

Want Harris Polls delivered direct to your inbox? Click here!

Methodology
This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between February 12 and 17, 2014 among 2,266 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

The Harris Poll® #77, August 5, 2014
By Larry Shannon-Missal, Manager, Harris Poll Content

About Nielsen & The Harris Poll
On February 3, 2014, Nielsen acquired Harris Interactive and The Harris Poll.  Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence and mobile measurement. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit www.nielsen.com.

Press Contact:
Corporate Communications
The Harris Poll
212-539-9600
[email protected]

Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20100517/NY06256LOGO

SOURCE The Harris Poll

More Stories By PR Newswire

Copyright © 2007 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PRNewswire content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of PRNewswire. PRNewswire shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

Latest Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in Embedded and IoT solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/Big Data, HPC and ...
Cloud computing delivers on-demand resources that provide businesses with flexibility and cost-savings. The challenge in moving workloads to the cloud has been the cost and complexity of ensuring the initial and ongoing security and regulatory (PCI, HIPAA, FFIEC) compliance across private and public clouds. Manual security compliance is slow, prone to human error, and represents over 50% of the cost of managing cloud applications. Determining how to automate cloud security compliance is critical...
18th Cloud Expo, taking place June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterprises are using some...
How will your company move to the cloud while ensuring a solid security posture? Organizations from small to large are increasingly adopting cloud solutions to deliver essential business services at a much lower cost. According to cyber security experts, the frequency and severity of cyber-attacks are on the rise, causing alarm to businesses and customers across a variety of industries. To defend against exploits like these, a company must adopt a comprehensive security defense strategy that is ...
@DevOpsSummit taking place June 7-9, 2016 at Javits Center, New York City, and Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 18th International @CloudExpo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Catchpoint Systems, Inc., a provider of innovative web and infrastructure monitoring solutions, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's DevOps Summit at 18th Cloud Expo New York, which will take place June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Catchpoint is a leading Digital Performance Analytics company that provides unparalleled insight into customer-critical services to help consistently deliver an amazing customer experience. Designed...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MangoApps will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. MangoApps provides modern company intranets and team collaboration software, allowing workers to stay connected and productive from anywhere in the world and from any device. For more information, please visit https://www.mangoapps.com/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that EastBanc Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. EastBanc Technologies has been working at the frontier of technology since 1999. Today, the firm provides full-lifecycle software development delivering flexible technology solutions that seamlessly integrate with existing systems – whether on premise or cloud. EastBanc Technologies partners with p...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM Cloud Data Services has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IBM Cloud Data Services offers a portfolio of integrated, best-of-breed cloud data services for developers focused on mobile computing and analytics use cases.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data...
We’ve been doing it for years, decades for some. How many websites have you created accounts on? Your bank, your credit card companies, social media sites, hotels and travel sites, online shopping sites, and that’s just the start. We do it often without even thinking about it, quickly entering our personal information, our data, in a plethora of systems. Sometimes we’re not even aware of the information we are providing. It could be very personal information (think of the security questions you ...
The cloud era has reached the stage where it is no longer a question of whether a company should migrate, but when. Enterprises have embraced the outsourcing of where their various applications are stored and who manages them, saving significant investment along the way. Plus, the cloud has become a defining competitive edge. Companies that fail to successfully adapt risk failure. The media, of course, continues to extol the virtues of the cloud, including how easy it is to get there. Migrating...
In today's enterprise, digital transformation represents organizational change even more so than technology change, as customer preferences and behavior drive end-to-end transformation across lines of business as well as IT. To capitalize on the ubiquitous disruption driving this transformation, companies must be able to innovate at an increasingly rapid pace. Traditional approaches for driving innovation are now woefully inadequate for keeping up with the breadth of disruption and change facin...
As machines are increasingly connected to the internet, it’s becoming easier to discover the numerous ways Industrial IoT (IIoT) is helping to shape the business world. This is exactly why we have decided to take a closer look at this pervasive movement and to examine the desire to connect more things! Now if you need a refresher on IIoT and how it is changing the world, take a moment and listen to Greg Gorbach with ARC Advisory Group. Gorbach believes, "IIoT will significantly change the worl...
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, will discuss the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to fo...