Since the Sept. 11 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, large majorities have said the federal government should investigate possible terrorist threats, even if it intrudes on personal privacy. But that majority had shrunk significantly since 2010, falling to 57 percent in 2013 after the revelations of domestic National Security Agency surveillance by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. In that poll, a record-high 39 percent said government should not intrude on privacy, even if it limits the ability to investigate possible threats.
In the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks and the rise of the Islamic State threat in Iraq over the summer, the public has reverted to a somewhat stronger stance of protection over freedom, by 63 percent to 32 percent.
In a rare streak of bipartisanship, there is virtually no distance between Republicans and Democrats on this issue. Roughly seven in 10 Democrats and Republicans alike prioritize the investigation of threats over personal privacy (71 and 68 percent, respectively). Even liberal Democrats, by 62-34 percent, side with investigation over privacy. Political independents drop to 56 percent preferring investigation.