By Elliot Jager
A majority of Americans would like to see Edward Snowden prosecuted for leaking classified government information even though increasing numbers of Americans disapprove of the way the National Security Agency collects telephone and Internet data, according to the latest poll by the Pew Research Center and USA Today.
Compared to a Pew survey in July 2013 when 44 percent disapproved, now 53 percent of 1,504 adults polled Jan. 15-19 are against the NSA’s approach to data-collectionwhile 40 percent approve.
President Barack Obama’s Jan. 17 speech making some changes to NSA surveillance practices did not have much of an impact on those surveyed, Pew also reported.
The survey also found that Obama’s approval ratings since last month were essentially unchanged. Forty-nine percent of those surveyed continue to disapprove of how he is handling his job.
Americans were divided over whether Snowden’s leaks of NSA information has had any impact on the country, with 45 percent saying his revelations served the public interest and 43 percent saying they did some harm. However, a solid 57 percent of young people between 18 and 29 years of age said Snowden’s revelation about NSA domestic surveillance was definitely in the public interest.
Nevertheless, 56 percent of those surveyed wanted to see Snowden brought up on criminal charges for leaking the classified information to the press while 32 percent were opposed. Young people in the poll were split 42 percent to 42 percent on the question.
The poll also found that support for the NSA overall is down across party lines, with partisan differences slowly narrowing. In June, 58 percent of Democrats supported NSA data collection compared to 45 percent for Republicans. Today, approval of the programs has fallen to 46 percent for Democrats compared to 37 percent for Republicans.
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