A majority of Americans, 54 percent, say it can be necessary for the government to sacrifice freedoms to fight terrorism.

About 50 percent of Americans think it is acceptable to allow warrantless government analysis of Internet activities and communications--even of American citizens--in order to keep an eye out for suspicious activity, only about 30 percent are against this type of government investigation.

In an increasingly monitored American culture, where more and more groups lobby the federal government for more and more laws and fines to control behavior, it is actually heartwarming that 45 percent disagree with suppressing freedom under the guise of stopping "terrorism" in a new national survey conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • Only about 25 percent of Americans say protecting their rights and freedoms as citizens is more critical than being kept secure. 4o percent say safety is more important than civil liberties. 30 percent say both are equally important. 

  • Almost 66 percent of Republicans, 55 percent of Democrats and 40 percent of Independents favor the analysis of Internet activity and communication by the government without a warrant. 

  • A majority of the public say the government is doing a good job protecting the right to vote, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of the press. But they are less positive about protecting other parts of the Bill of Rights, such as government efforts to ban guns, decreased equal protection under the law, and unreasonable search and seizure, likely due to high-profile incidents in New York City, Chicago and Baltimore.

  • Republicans and Democrats are equally anxious about the possibility of being personally affected by domestic terrorism, but two-thirds of Republicans and half of Democrats are greatly or somewhat concerned about becoming a victim of Islamic extremism in the United States.  

Source: NORC at the University of Chicago