POSTED: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 - 4:00pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 - 4:14pm
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Although worries about terrorism have edged up following the Boston Marathon bombings, a new national poll indicates only four in ten Americans say they are willing to give up some civil liberties to fight terrorism.
And according to a CNN/Time/ORC International survey, the public is particularly concerned about the government eavesdropping on their cell phones or reading their email.
The goal of a terror attack is to terrorize, and the poll, released Wednesday, indicates concerns over becoming a victim of terrorism are up slightly in the wake of the April 15 bombings, which left three people dead and more than 260 injured. The 40% who worry that someone in their family will become a victim of terrorism is up six percentage points from a 2011 CNN poll, conducted on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.
"But only a quarter are less likely to attend large public events like the Boston marathon, even though more than six in ten believe that the terrorists will always find a way to launch an attack regardless of what the government does," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
The poll suggests that public attitudes toward terrorism and civil liberties have changed dramatically since 1995, when the deadly bombing of a federal office building in Oklahoma City first ushered in a new era of anti-terrorism measures that impacted the lives of ordinary Americans. Back in 1995, 57% of the country said that they were willing to give up some civil liberties if that were necessary to curb terrorism. Today, that figure is down to 40%, and it appears that the biggest change is in attitudes toward cell phones and email.
"After 9/11, 54% of Americans favored expanded government monitoring of cell phones and email. Now, the message is 'hands off,' " adds Holland. "Only 38% favor expanding government monitoring of those forms of communication."
The survey indicates that support for government monitoring of the internet is down eight points from right after 9/11, although there is still majority support, and there is widespread and growing approval of surveillance cameras in public places, possibly a reaction to the fact that the big breaks in the Boston bombing case came from security cameras in the area of the attack.
Another finding from the survey: Six in ten report that they are more worried about the government restricting civil liberties than they are that the government will fail to enact new anti-terrorist policies.
The poll was conducted for CNN and Time magazine by ORC International, with 606 adults nationwide questioned by telephone on Tuesday, April 30. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus four percentage points.
CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report
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