Would you trade privacy for national security? Most Americans wouldn’t

“Only 42% of Americans say they are willing to give up some privacy for national security, according to a new survey released by the Public Affairs Council, the national organization for public affairs professionals,” Quentin Fottrell reports for MarketWatch. “And that number goes down to 25% when it comes to Americans willing to trade their privacy for lower prices, the survey found.”

“Republicans (39%) are less likely than Democrats (45%) to say they are willing to trade some privacy for better national security,” Fottrell reports. “But Doug Pinkham, president of the Public Affairs Council, says this may be attributable to the fact that there’s a Democratic president in the White House. The country appears to be more polarized in recent years, too, he adds. Last year, the Internal Revenue Service was accused of targeting conservative groups and, in June, the IRS said a computer belonging to a key employee crashed in 2011, which made it difficult to see the history of who might have been targeted and why.”

“Some people with a Facebook profile or smartphone may not be aware that they’re already giving up a certain amount of privacy ‘every time they download an app,’ Pinkham says. (It’s the first time that the survey asked people if they’d give up a certain amount of privacy for other benefits like national security or lower prices),” Fottrell reports. “Despite concerns among consumer advocates about the privacy policies of companies such as Facebook and, and how much information they can glean from a person’s smartphone use, there’s been a surge in the trust Americans put in technology companies. Some 83% of respondents in the Public Affairs Council survey say technology companies are at least as trustworthy as the average major company, while only 53% of people felt that way when that question was posed in 2011.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: One question: How can an article like this not once mention Google, the poster child for trading privacy for “free” apps? (Gmail, which automatically scans emails in order to add contextual advertisements, for one of many examples.)

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free. – Ronald Reagan, 1961

Visit the Apple-backed reformgovernmentsurveillance.com today.

Related articles:
As U.S. government discusses expanding digital searches, ACLU sounds caution – April 7, 2014
Obama to meet again with tech CEOs about NSA spying – March 21, 2014
US NSA used Facebook to hack into computers – March 12, 2014
Rand Paul: ‘What you do on your cellphone is none of their damned business!’ – March 8, 2014
U.S. NSA watching, tracking phone users with Google Maps – January 28, 2014
Apple issues update on U.S. NSA and law enforcement orders – January 27, 2014
Obama’s NSA proposals fall far short of real change – January 17, 2014
U.S. NSA devises radio pathway into computers to conduct surveillance, launch cyberattacks – January 15, 2014
U.S. NSA seeks to build quantum computer to crack most types of encryption – January 3, 2014
Ex-NSA chief calls for Obama to reject commission’s recommendations to rein in NSA surveillance – December 30, 2013
Report: U.S. NSA intercepts computers during shipping to install surveillance malware – December 30, 2013


  1. What a misleading headline, could read “Would you trade privacy for national security? Most Americans have.”

    Not that it’s been a trade really more like simply taken away, in the name of national security or rather national insecurity and paranoia. Taking away that privacy, it hasn’t made Amurderca any more secure. It’s just another step, along with the immoral unethical invasion of another country on trumped up imagined fantasy, torture, holding people indefinitely, denial of justice, gosh the list goes on and on.

    And it’s good, having a bunch of terrorists going after each other repeatedly helps the free civilized world stay safe, not to mention making for great viewing on the side line.

    Pass the popcorn.

    “The country appears to be more polarized in recent years” Yeah, like since 1861.

    1. Americans did this three ways.

      1. They asked Congress and more to do pass legislation to make this trade.

      2. Americans in their daily lives traded privacy away for other benefits, such as with Google Apps mentioned in the MDN Take.

      3. Governments and corporations took away the privacy without asking us.

      Its hard to write a precise headline which can cover all 3.

      1. Thanks for your post Tetrachloride

        The three points you mention are valid and certainly I usually refrain what is done within their borders. Amurdercans want to torture and spy and remove the privacy of their own citizens, that’s their business.

        Coming onto the world’s stage and doing that is another situation entirely, although the two can be closely related depending on the issue.

        When the president says “We tortured some folks,” and “We did some things that were contrary to our values.” one has to ask if these are American folks being tortured (no) and was this expression of contrary values confined to within the Amurdercan border (again a no with reference to the Iraqi war sequel and the NSA actions).

        You are right, a precise headline covering all 3 is tough, because the problems are symptomatic of a once great country that has lost his way.

        A solution headline on the other hand is simple, and oh how I’d love to read that some day, something along the lines of: “How America Regained Integrity.”

        Call me an optimist but I do believe it’s possible.

      2. As Cl4 pointed out, every American already has traded some of his/her privacy for various reasons, and does so every day. Our credit card purchases are tracked. So are our telephone calls, which also provide general location data. When we allow location-based services, our location is tracked more frequently and precisely. We are photographed many times each day as we go about our daily lives. We have not had 100% privacy since we began gathering into communities. But technology has accelerated the collection and distribution of “personal” data.

        This poll is meaningless. It is far too broad and lacking in context. If this poll had been taken after 9/11, the answer would be far different than it is 13 years later. People generally only react to the present and the recent past.

        1. An excellent post KingMel, definitely on track. I remember reading an article years back on how much information can be found from a person’s garbage. Today the technology you mention from the cameras to the overhead satellites, to the net tracking all gather data about our public activities.

          So musing about the concept I’m asking how and where can you have a private moment. One might think that you can have a nice degree of privacy at home and even that is going to be eroded away. I’m think of all these net appliances that will be coming into play soon. Water heaters, stoves, fridges thermostats, cars all connected to the net so access to how much and when you eat, shower, and so on will be accessible directly or indirectly.

          I find it interesting that someone like Bin Laden was able to conceal his location from the authorities (i.e. maintain his privacy) for so long due to the use of caves. Seems we are coming back full circle, to the last refuge, the cave. Even that no doubt will be probed at some point.

          The borg come to mind.

      1. Yes, it most certainly has, and it’s a real shame to see. There are those who have replied to me that I am a troll, or that I hate the U.S. without even addressing the issues brought up, hoping that if I will go away perhaps the issue will go away, but it won’t.

        There are those, and some are fine Americans who know and see what is happening and support what I am saying; that the Iraqi war and the “torture of some folks” as it has been put is so unethical and immoral that if something isn’t done, that the toilet will end up being flushed and the descent will continue. Maybe what is needed before there is a wake up call, that is if there is anyone left awake after the great flush.

        The constitution of the United States is a powerful document. People, ordinary people fought and died for those ideals. People, ordinary people fought and died over slavery so that other people could free. Torture and invasion of another country on trumped up charges are most certainly not what the founders of the United States had in mind. To see this happen is a tragedy, and continues to be until those responsible are brought to justice. No ifs ands or buts.

        It will take a certain kind of think different approach. That’s why Apple and those who get the ideals of Apple are so important. Apple shines compared to the mega companies around, Google, the oil companies, Amazon, Facebook and so on. It’s not about profits, about bleeding the consumer, usurping the people’s personal freedom.

        It’s about the power to be your best, to empower people so that they can enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. There is a cost to that at times and it is my opinion that this is one of those times, to rise up out of that toilet, or face a great flushing.

        1. Those ideals were fought for by thousands of people. Unfortunately, the 83 people that run the planet (you know…those that hole 90% of the world’s money) have long ago figured out that if they make things easy… Not too easy … That they can make people look over there while they do their own thing over there.

  2. If my privacy is secure and every individuals privacy is secure,
    then by default, the Nations Security is secure.

    If the government wants to ensure National Security, then they should be monitoring attempts at breaching my security, that will lead them to the indolent bastards who seek ill upon everyone.

    1. Personal Privacy does not equate to Security. Even if everyone’s privacy were 100% protected Security is not assured.

      Security is about much more than Privacy. Even a hermit living in total secrecy on a mountain can be killed with the right weapon — even it it’s done inadvertently. So even with absolute privacy, security can be non existent. Similarly, if every single person’s Personal Privacy is 100% secure, it is still possible for a weapon to take out a large fraction of the U.S. Government in a single stroke. Total Personal Security resulting in virtually zero National Security.

      Also there is no way to protect Personal Privacy 100%. It ‘s just not realistic. It goes back to the old saying, “The only way truly to keep a secret secret is to tell absolutely no one. If two people know a secret, eventually three will, then four, then more.” If you interact with people then you are, by default, giving up some of your Personal Privacy. Your Personal Privacy is no longer 100% secure.

      Equating privacy to security is an inherent part of the underlying problem. If people think the two are fungible then you can easily trade one for the other (or some “reasonable fraction of one” for an “acceptable fraction of the other”). The two should never be thought of in that way.

      There needs to be a distinction between Personal Privacy and Public Privacy. Under certain circumstances what you do that interacts with the public may not warrant protection. Drawing the “line” between the two is probably nearly impossible and is likely different on a case-by-case basis.

      At the moment most governments (not just the U.S. Government) and businesses seem to be drawing the line *WAY* to far toward the Personal Privacy end of the spectrum and are most certainly treating what should be *PERSONAL* is being considered Public whether it be in the name of “National Security” or in the name of corporate greed — I mean “profit”.

  3. Of course if we actually had a strong, decisive president with a competent foreign policy aimed at destroying threats abroad before they even have a chance to reach us at home, maybe we wouldn’t need to worry about sacrificing our personal liberty. As it stands today, however, it’s only a matter of time before we’re struck again. And just as a passive, unfocused Democrat president enabled the 9/11 attacks, the blood from the next domestic catastrophe will be on Barack Obama’s hands.

    1. Minifying the issue to Reps or Dems portrays your otoise mind!

      What you allude to is as a result of both parties animosity towards each other to the detriment of the American Nation that led to the event that you so eloquently describe via calendrical numbers.

      Reminds me of “Spy V. Spy”.

      Clinton’s democrats want to bomb Osama in Afghanistan, the Republicans veto the action so that Osama is able to disappear.

      Bush’s Republicans go to war in Afghanistan in order to remove Saddam Hussein from Iraq.

      Obama’s Democrats dispatch Osama in Pakistan and dispose of him in Davy Jones locker just to watch Afghanistan & Iraq unravel as does Libya, Egypt and Syria not withstanding the knock-on effects around the globe in Eastern Europe and North West Africa.

      The World as a result has become a peachy place filled with recrudesces of violence.

    2. 9/11! How stupid do you think the rest of us are. It was Bush (a Republican) who ignored reports from Clinton (a Democrat) that Al-Qaeda was planing to use planes as weapons. Then when the Army had Osama trapped and the Taliban powerless Bush pulled the troupes out to go invade another country. It was under Obama that the mastermind of 9/11 was caught and killed. There is a lot that Obama and the Democrats have done wrong, but not 9/11.

      1. It was The Magic Boxknife that took down WTC7! First, it went through 1WTC, then zig-zagged into 2WTC….hovered in midair for five hours then nailed WTC7. And I’ve got computer animation to prove it! From a computer!

      2. Excuse me. There were no reports from Clinton that Al Qaeda was planning to use planes as weapons. Clinton turned down the opportunity to have An already arrested Osama when he was offered on a silver platter. The army never had Osama trapped and the Taliban powerless and pulled troops out to invade another country. . . We fought a two front war. Bush was in office only eight months before 9-11 occurred. . . and the policies that it occurred under were still those put in place by the previous administration. The perpetrators came into the country, studied how to fly jets, but not how to land them, under CLINTON, not Bush. Wake up to the facts.

    3. So is Obama passive and weak, or a Tyrant who does anything he pleases? You can’t have it both ways.
      Also, living in NYC at the time of 9/11, I recall everyone getting behind Bush. Can you imagine the same if we had a similar attack with Obama in office? I think not. Have you seen what the ISIS is doing in Iraq lately? Kinda makes you will Sadam was still around

      1. Actually you can have it both ways. He’s passive and weak when it comes to building a strong American military and applying force to keep our enemies at bay. And he’s tyrannical domestically with statist policies that enrich government power while subverting the freedom of the people he was elected to serve. He’s the worst of both worlds.

  4. The problem is who defines the rules of National Security. The same people that spy on every citizen, even the senate, etc.. so they can blackmail whoever dares to criticize them. So they can keep profiting from advanced knowledge and treat people like puppets. They should name the country the United Slaves of America then.

    1. all i can say is what i guess i have said before….

      the so called ‘security” related programs being implemented buy our government – under both recent republican and democratic parties – are, in part, the very kinds of things our parents and some of your grand and even great grandparents actively fought against from 1941 to 1945.

      i would suspect those 400,000 men and women who died in that conflict are likely spinning in their graves, and the remaining millions who were lucky enough to survive and build post war america are also likely spinning at only a slightly lower rpm.

      walt kelly was right, all those years ago, when he had pogo give voice to the sentiment “we have met the enemy and he is us”

      where the hell is bob dole and other vets of that conflict, when they need to speak up and speak out ?

      it is really shameful what is being done in our name, our civil rights and our once admired (though admittedly imperfect) nation.

      and profoundly saddening.

  5. The NSA and other government agency can through you in jail, take your property, and even your life. Google, Apple, Facebook may all have larger server farms and more information about us. However about the most they can do is annoy us with ads to get our money.

      1. Without any competition whatsoever.

        The fundamental difference? Gmail, Yahoo mail, Hotmail and all other free e-mail accounts are based on the business model where if you are not the paying customer, someone else is, and you are the product for sale.

        Apple’s paying customers pay for Apple’s hardware. The company is globally famous for the most obscene profit margins in their industry. A small portion of these profit margins is used to underwrite services such as iCloud. You will most likely NEVER see any advertising in iCloud mail interface. Apple will most likely NEVER share ANY data it gathers about you, not for any money. Apple makes money selling hardware; not selling advertising revenue on their online services. Apples ONLY paying customers are their users (people who buy Apple products), NOT some advertisers who are pushing their products onto the unsuspecting users.

        There simply is no competition. If you want your e-mail to be truly private, there are only two choices: either you set up your own, private e-mail server, or you use Apple’s iCloud mail.

    1. George Orwell, in <Nineteen Eighty-Four, depicted a world perfected by totalitarianism, one in which bureaucrats sat at their desks and watched your every move; getting to know you rather well, and calling you in for a chat should you exhibit signs of deviance. Conformity was made the supreme virtue. Wars were staged for purposes of psychological manipulation and crowd control. Language itself was repurposed to script social interactions and stymie critical thinking.

      The removal of privacy and other protections, using fear as a crowbar, inevitably empowered soulless corporate governance and led to the suppression of individualism. MDN is always quoting Franklin on this, and rightly so. Beware the fear mongers.

        1. @Road Warrior

          There is little doubt that the US has engaged in reprehensible activities throughout its fledgling existence. A clear-eyed gull, circling above the civic landscape for a few fleeting decades, would affirm that; but it would also be duty-bound to report unspeakable atrocities on the part of other tribes beyond our sphere.

          I don’t mean to imply you are being unfair; to the contrary you have expressed hope for recovery of the US moral compass, if it ever had one. The US, being so new compared to other places on Earth, can mayhap make up for its stumbles readily. But that all depends on us voters…Will we vote wisely next time, or will we continue to be hypnotised by the images projected upon the screens that are meant to indoctrinate us…?

          1. That’s a lovely post hannahjs and a very valid point. My answer will be relatively short and simple but I hope it provides enough insight for you.

            Some of the main reasons I don’t spend a lot of time reporting on the unspeakable atrocities of other tribes are:

            -That’s what I expect of them: Conflicts in the Middle East and Africa have been going on for a long time. They have a historical aspect and these atrocities unlike many European conflicts have not yet been resolved.

            – They are localized: Many, if not all the major conflicts on the planet are localized, either within the country or with neighbor.

            – They are subjected to the full consequences of the conflict: This is a main point, many of these conflicts are a way of life and death for those within the conflict. For the U.S. it’s a hobby, and a way to profit by it. Consider the atrocity of the Iraqi sequel. Lots of innocent casualties dying, lots of refugees. Typical for such conflicts, very atypical for the United States. I mean how many innocent (non-military) women and children did the U.S. lose in the Iraqi conflict? I don’t think they sent any, so I’m going say very close to zero but please feel free to correct me if I am wrong. How many American refugees were displaced by the Iraqi conflict? Again I’m going to say close to zero, don’t know of any displaced American (non military) refugees that crossed the border into my country as a result of the Iraqi conflict. How many draftees were sent to the Iraqi conflict? I don’t think there was a draft for the Iraqi conflict, the majority of Americans sent to Iraq were military or military support, that went there of their own free will for whatever reason. There is a kind of sympathy that I develop when those experiencing the conflict are losing innocent civilians and regular citizens are drawn into the fight. That kind of sympathy, well it’s lacking with the United States in that regard.

            You mention that the United States is a young country, yet it was born from war, and from that conflict they seized their independence, they did it themselves (mind you France helped them an awful lot), it wasn’t provided for them. I feel it’s a big difference to experience the joy you have of building something yourself, as opposed to something given to you. The youth of that country, relatively speaking is not an excuse in my books, quite the opposite. Their constitution was built from the best material of prior history. Building a new house on a vacant piece of land is a lot easier than tearing parts of an old house down before making a new addition. Certainly there was tearing down an old house, but the conflict with the North American Indian was supported by the Europeans of Britain France and Spain notably. Furthermore the United States has been open to migrants from all over the world and that should add a diversity and resilience. To this I will add my own personal insight, for in my travels I have lived in monocultural (one majority), bicultural (one majority and one minority), multicultural (everyone is a minority) towns and cities, the latter being the most refreshing to me because diversity is stability to me. That and the fact that every culture I’ve come across have these great dishes. I mean why fight when there is so many good recipes is beyond me. When it comes to the youth of the country, I retort that the spirit does not measure time, it measures growth.

            All that being said, I have at times commented on the atrocities of other tribes, and sometimes those comments are silent ones. That’s why I state that the U.S. is a wannabe terrorist nation, they aren’t quite there yet, so there is still hope. Unlike many of the other tribes though they should know better.

            while brief I do hope this helps address you very valid point.


            1. I like that you are so forthcoming, and bestow earnest explanations on any serious questioners. One who cares not, would not spare the time.

      1. Xactly.
        Who wants Richard Burton sticking his rat in your face….?

        To rant seriously, the purveyors of Political Correctness ARE the seed bearers for a Thought Police.

            1. Ever the didactic, botvinnik! True enough, the man did not use doublespeak in his book, yet his ideas engendered that term as well as a host of other derivations, all hoping to build a complete lexicon of oppression, formidable enough to help stop the bastards from taking over our thinking and our lives.

  6. To Quote from Steppenwolf’s John Kay in a song called Monster
    “And though the past has it’s share of injustice
    Kind was the spirit in many a way
    But it’s protectors and friends have been sleeping
    Now it’s a monster and will not obey

    The spirit was freedom and justice
    And it’s keepers seem friendly and kind
    It’s leaders were supposed to serve the country
    But now they won’t pay it no mind

    ‘Cause the people got fat and grew lazy
    Now their vote is like a meaningless joke
    You know they talk about law, about order
    But it’s all just an echo of what they’ve been told
    Read more at http://www.songlyrics.com/steppenwolf/monster-lyrics/#H2J0B7BYBzkzQKRb.99


  7. The question is posed incorrectly.

    Correct would be:
    You are giving away an enormous amount of privacy (some voluntarily like facebook twitter etal and some involuntarily, due to the boundless spying of NSA and its ilks) for the sake of perceived security. Are you OK with that?

  8. Since most Americans are not members of either party the Blue Pill Red Pill bullshit makes no difference. I am a liberal and am most definitely NOT a member of either party.

    I am not willing to trade my rights for some security theater nonsense that allows Washington or any other level of government to trample our rights as people and as US citizens. For those mot paying attention, the national security state and the incarceration state are the places the (public) money is at these days.

    Watch your wallet and do not trust your elected officials of either party.

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