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
Wooed by the promise of faster innovation, lower TCO, and greater agility, businesses of every shape and size have embraced the cloud at every layer of the IT stack – from apps to file sharing to infrastructure. The typical organization currently uses more than a dozen sanctioned cloud apps and will shift more than half of all workloads to the cloud by 2018. Such cloud investments have delivered measurable benefits. But they’ve also resulted in some unintended side-effects: complexity and risk. ...
With 10 simultaneous tracks, keynotes, general sessions and targeted breakout classes, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO are two of the most important technology events of the year. Since its launch over eight years ago, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO have presented a rock star faculty as well as showcased hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors! In this blog post, we provide 7 tips on how, as part of our world-class faculty, you can deliver one of the most popular sessions at our events. But before reading...
In this presentation, you will learn first hand what works and what doesn't while architecting and deploying OpenStack. Some of the topics will include:- best practices for creating repeatable deployments of OpenStack- multi-site considerations- how to customize OpenStack to integrate with your existing systems and security best practices.
If a machine can invent, does this mean the end of the patent system as we know it? The patent system, both in the US and Europe, allows companies to protect their inventions and helps foster innovation. However, Artificial Intelligence (AI) could be set to disrupt the patent system as we know it. This talk will examine how AI may change the patent landscape in the years to come. Furthermore, ways in which companies can best protect their AI related inventions will be examined from both a US and...
Charles Araujo is an industry analyst, internationally recognized authority on the Digital Enterprise and author of The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change. As Principal Analyst with Intellyx, he writes, speaks and advises organizations on how to navigate through this time of disruption. He is also the founder of The Institute for Digital Transformation and a sought after keynote speaker. He has been a regular contributor to both InformationWeek and CIO Insight...
Behera Rasananda is a technologist, a leader, a key note speaker has more than 20 years experience in across Government, Financial, Heath Care and Insurance Verticals. Mr. Behera has vast experience in Enterprise Cloud and Big Data solutions and Enterprise Architecture. Currently he works closely for Government Solutions on Enterprise Cloud for Federal Government Agency. Scientist Behera managed and partner with clients to make complete end to end solution and Migration to cloud both private sec...
Everyone wants the rainbow - reduced IT costs, scalability, continuity, flexibility, manageability, and innovation. But in order to get to that collaboration rainbow, you need the cloud! In this presentation, we'll cover three areas: First - the rainbow of benefits from cloud collaboration. There are many different reasons why more and more companies and institutions are moving to the cloud. Benefits include: cost savings (reducing on-prem infrastructure, reducing data center foot print, r...
They say multi-cloud is coming, but organizations are leveraging multiple clouds already. According to a study by 451 Research, only 21% of organizations were using a single cloud. If you've found yourself unprepared for the barrage of cloud services introduced in your organization, you will need to change your approach to engaging with the business and engaging with vendors. Look at technologies that are on the way and work with the internal players involved to have a plan in place when the ine...
Excitement and interest in APIs has skyrocketed in recent years. However, if you ask a room full of IT professionals "What is an API", you will get a wide array of answers. There exists a wide knowledge gap between API experts and those that have a general idea of what they are, but are unsure of what they have been for in the past, what they look like now, and how they can be used to expand your business in the future. In this session John will cover what the history of APIs, what an API looks ...
The now mainstream platform changes stemming from the first Internet boom brought many changes but didn’t really change the basic relationship between servers and the applications running on them. In fact, that was sort of the point. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Gordon Haff, senior cloud strategy marketing and evangelism manager at Red Hat, will discuss how today’s workloads require a new model and a new platform for development and execution. The platform must handle a wide range of rec...
DXWorldEXPO LLC, the producer of the world's most influential technology conferences and trade shows has announced the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO "Early Bird Registration" is now open. Register for Full Conference "Gold Pass" ▸ Here (Expo Hall ▸ Here)
Bill Schmarzo, Tech Chair of "Big Data | Analytics" of upcoming CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York (November 12-13, 2018, New York City) today announced the outline and schedule of the track. "The track has been designed in experience/degree order," said Schmarzo. "So, that folks who attend the entire track can leave the conference with some of the skills necessary to get their work done when they get back to their offices. It actually ties back to some work that I'm doing at the University of ...
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo, taking place November 12-13 in New York City, NY, is co-located with 22nd international CloudEXPO | first international DXWorldEXPO and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time t...
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 sh...
CloudEXPO New York 2018, colocated with DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City and will bring together Cloud Computing, FinTech and Blockchain, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, AI, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location.