When queried on the government’s ability to monitor home computers or email, Internet users said they are less likely to be “very concerned” than when Gallup first asked such questions in 2000. Specifically:
- Thirty-five percent of users are very concerned about the government’s ability to tap into a suspect’s computer and follow their Internet activities, down 12 percentage points from 2000;
- The 41% who are very concerned about the government’s ability to tap into suspects’ home computer files is down 13 points from 2000; and
- Users are most concerned about the government using software to tap into email to search for incriminating evidence of any kind. About half (51%) are very concerned about this, but that is down from 63% in 2000.
According to Gallup, the figures have been impacted by a post-9/11 environment, with monitoring of suspected terrorists by government agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security, now seen as commonplace. In addition, Gallup found that users may be more resigned to the idea that in an advanced technological age, monitoring is inevitable, making this prospect less worrying than it once was.
This poll is based on phone interviews conducted between October 3 and 6, with a random sample of 887 Internet users, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.