Discuss as:

Public doesn't expect NSA reforms to boost privacy

Americans don’t expect President Barack Obama’s proposed NSA reforms to substantially hinder counterterrorism efforts, nor do they think the reforms will increase protections of individual privacy.

According to a new Pew Research Center poll conducted in part after the president’s long-awaited speech on government surveillance tactics, 73 percent of Americans don’t think the changes will make much of a difference to personal privacy.

Obama last week outlined a series of changes that would end government storage of so-called “metadata” (broad information about phone and email communication) and require the government to seek judicial approval before querying metadata stores going forward. 

The reforms largely won praise from hawkish lawmakers, though some libertarian members of Congress complained the reforms don’t go far enough.

Americans don’t expect the reforms to hamper the government’s ability to combat terrorism, though. Seventy-nine percent of Americans said the reforms wouldn’t make much of a difference on counterterrorism efforts.

The collection of telephone and internet data by the NSA still suffers from public opposition, though. Fifty-three percent of Americans disapprove of the surveillance tactics, while 40 percent approve of the tactic. 

The poll was conducted Jan. 15-19, though some of its questions about the proposals in the president’s speech were conducted only Jan. 17-19. The full sample has a margin of error of 2.9 percent, while the second sample has a 4 percent margin of error.