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
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform and how we integrate our thinking to solve complicated problems. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and ...
"Venafi has a platform that allows you to manage, centralize and automate the complete life cycle of keys and certificates within the organization," explained Gina Osmond, Sr. Field Marketing Manager at Venafi, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Application transformation and DevOps practices are two sides of the same coin. Enterprises that want to capture value faster, need to deliver value faster – time value of money principle. To do that enterprises need to build cloud-native apps as microservices by empowering teams to build, ship, and run in production. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Neil Gehani, senior product manager at HPE, discussed what every business should plan for how to structure their teams to delive...
"We are a modern development application platform and we have a suite of products that allow you to application release automation, we do version control, and we do application life cycle management," explained Flint Brenton, CEO of CollabNet, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
We are always online. We access our data, our finances, work, and various services on the Internet. But we live in a congested world of information in which the roads were built two decades ago. The quest for better, faster Internet routing has been around for a decade, but nobody solved this problem. We’ve seen band-aid approaches like CDNs that attack a niche's slice of static content part of the Internet, but that’s it. It does not address the dynamic services-based Internet of today. It does...
The WebRTC Summit New York, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 20th International Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo. WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web ...
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, 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.
WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web communications world. The 6th WebRTC Summit continues our tradition of delivering the latest and greatest presentations within the world of WebRTC. Topics include voice calling, video chat, P2P file sharing, and use cases that have already leveraged the power and convenience of WebRTC.
Without lifecycle traceability and visibility across the tool chain, stakeholders from Planning-to-Ops have limited insight and answers to who, what, when, why and how across the DevOps lifecycle. This impacts the ability to deliver high quality software at the needed velocity to drive positive business outcomes. In his general session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Phil Hombledal, Solution Architect at CollabNet, discussed how customers are able to achieve a level of transparency that e...
"We're a cybersecurity firm that specializes in engineering security solutions both at the software and hardware level. Security cannot be an after-the-fact afterthought, which is what it's become," stated Richard Blech, Chief Executive Officer at Secure Channels, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to simplify and streamline our lives by automating routine tasks that distract us from our goals. This promise is based on the ubiquitous deployment of smart, connected devices that link everything from industrial control systems to automobiles to refrigerators. Unfortunately, comparatively few of the devices currently deployed have been developed with an eye toward security, and as the DDoS attacks of late October 2016 have demonstrated, this oversight can ...
Fact is, enterprises have significant legacy voice infrastructure that’s costly to replace with pure IP solutions. How can we bring this analog infrastructure into our shiny new cloud applications? There are proven methods to bind both legacy voice applications and traditional PSTN audio into cloud-based applications and services at a carrier scale. Some of the most successful implementations leverage WebRTC, WebSockets, SIP and other open source technologies. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Da...
Kubernetes is a new and revolutionary open-sourced system for managing containers across multiple hosts in a cluster. Ansible is a simple IT automation tool for just about any requirement for reproducible environments. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, Patrick Galbraith, a principal engineer at HPE, discussed how to build a fully functional Kubernetes cluster on a number of virtual machines or bare-metal hosts. Also included will be a brief demonstration of running a Galera MyS...
Internet-of-Things discussions can end up either going down the consumer gadget rabbit hole or focused on the sort of data logging that industrial manufacturers have been doing forever. However, in fact, companies today are already using IoT data both to optimize their operational technology and to improve the experience of customer interactions in novel ways. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Gordon Haff, Red Hat Technology Evangelist, will share examples from a wide range of industries – includin...