back to article Three in ten Americans urge feds to read their email

A survey into attitudes ten years after the 9/11 attacks has found that three out of ten Americans are happy to let the government read their emails without a warrant. And this rose to 47 per cent for emails addressed to foreigners. Over a thousand Americans were polled by NORC at the University of Chicago into their attitudes …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What was the exact question on torture?

    The problem is that there is a huge difference between "there are cases in which it would be good if X were done" and "the government should be allowed to do X when the government considers it to be necessary". People who aren't completely naive understand that if you give the government permission to do X "when necessary" then the government will do X whenever the hell they want to as there won't even be a law to hold then back. (Even laws are only a mild discouragement to government.)

  2. Red Bren


    Land of the fear.

  3. jake Silver badge

    NORC? Sounds like NorK ...

    I'm absolutely astounded by the bogons my fellow Yanks continue to generate when it comes to lack of caring about privacy.

    Maybe I'll move. Or succeed ... I have property where I can live at subsistence level, and fairly comfortably ... Yes, I've done it, for four+ years ...

  4. James Pickett


    Land of the free, eh?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Land of the complicit co-conspirator.

      "Torture inquiry to examine UK-Libya intelligence links"

      Do read it, and try not to hit your glass house with that stone.

      1. Ru

        "Land of the complicit co-conspirator."

        Right, right... government intelligence agencies not very nice. Super.

        Only in the UK there is disapproval. Doesn't seem like Brits really want state supported torture, whereas it seems a lot more popular on the other side of the Atlantic. That's what the complaint is about, chief.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: AC @ 08:54

        > Land of the complicit co-conspirator

        I guess you do not believe in innocent until proven guilty then. Or is that only for certain approved groups?

      3. Naughtyhorse

        glass house... not me

        Im just as keen to see that bastard blair in the hague as gaddafi, and bush/rumpsfeltd/chaney



        and killed with fire

        clean(ish) again

        1. Intractable Potsherd
          Thumb Up


          I wish I could upvote that many more times, especially after the inquiry findings yesterday. Time to start holding people at all levels accountable.

    2. Ru
      Big Brother

      "Do you support doubleplus thorough interrogation, or are you in favour of terrorist atrocities?"

      U-S-A, U-S-A!

    3. Andrew Moore Silver badge


      I think we need more metrics on this survey. Like how many of the respondents, who answered yes to allowing unwarranted search and/or torture, are members of the Tea Party, or watch Fox News.

      1. Figgus


        If you knew anything at all about the Tea Party or the Conservatives you'd know they are most likely the ones NOT wanting to let the government eavesdrop.

        Use logic for a moment: do you think a group in favor of taking power away from the Federal government would cheerfully hand that government more power?

        But hey, you got to seem cool by slamming buzzwords that you know nothing about... +1 for you, then?

        1. Graham Marsden


          It was my impression that the Tea Party et al were all in favour of "enhanced interrogation" etc, but only when it's being used on left-wingers/ foreigners/ anyone who isn't Christian because they're the ones that we need to worry about...

          1. Oninoshiko

            @Graham Marsden

            The TEA party's is against any new taxes. That's what their name means "Taxed Enough Already" while also being a play on the Boston Tea Party (an event in US history where the soon-to-be USAians tossed a bunch of tea in the harbor).

            Any beliefs beyond this are on a individual basis, and applying them to the entire group is disingenuous at best. Most of the people I am hearing it from appear to have an obvious political agenda.

          2. Figgus


            No, not entirely true. They had no problem with it being used on terror suspects (indeed, it got us Bin Laden) but there is a difference between a citizen and a terror suspect who might have information that could save hundreds (thousands?) of lives. When it comes to domestic issues, the Tea Party thinks the government is eroding freedoms across the board.

            Also, the "enhanced interrogation" basically means water boarding, and we do that to some of our own troops in training. The loud audio and sleep deprivation are also not that harsh, not when compared to decapitating someone with piano wire and recording it for rebroadcast.

            The Tea Party can be lambasted for having 2 sets of standards (one for citizens and one for POW) but even I don't really see a problem with that as long as both standards are humane.

            1. TimeMaster T

              oh really?

              "The loud audio and sleep deprivation are also not that harsh,"

              Ever been subjected to it?

              I didn't think so.

              And there is a big difference between a Navy Seal trainee getting water boarded and a suspected terrorist. The Seal has the option to say "No" and can stop it at any time. The suspected terrorist, who might just be some guy they grabbed because he "looked nervous" at a check point, has no such option.

              What makes us different from the terrorists if we act just like them?

            2. Graham Marsden


              "The Tea Party can be lambasted for having 2 sets of standards (one for citizens and one for POW) but even I don't really see a problem with that as long as both standards are humane."

              You really don't see a problem with that? Hmm, let me try a few expressions on you here:

              Separate but Equal

              Some are More Equal than others

              American vs Un-American


              There's plenty of precedents for double standards...

  5. Bog witch


    The land of the free?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      It's been amended

      "Land of the Cheap"

    2. phuzz Silver badge
      Black Helicopters


      America - Land of the Incarcerated.

      There's more people in prison in the US than anywhere else in the world.

      1. Armando 123

        No surprise

        For 400 years Europe shipped religious loops, criminals, and slaves to the US, and now the Europeans decry things like this in America.

        Perhaps we can return the favor and ship you our civil service.

        1. Intractable Potsherd
          Thumb Down

          @Armando 123

          Interesting revisionist theory there. According to my history books:

          1. The religious loops went of their own accord to develop their own brand of loopery where the established churches couldn't get at them. With hindsight, they should have been prevented by any means - the world would be a saner place.

          2. Yes, there was some deportation of criminals, but not much in the grand scheme of things. However, many people with ... ummm "flexible morals" did leave Europe to go to a place with an undeveloped legal system, but again, it was largely voluntary. However, in a large enough population, it would have happened anyway.

          3. I'm not sure what slaves have to do with your comment here, especially since you bundle them with religious loops and criminals. However, they are the only ones in your list that had no choice in where they ended up.

  6. theBatman

    Use the FUD to get the power...

    34% of Americans believe that every time you say "I don't believe in terrorism" an American soldier dies... Unless you clap your hands of course.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    This rose to 47 per cent for emails addressed to foreigners

    At first I thought how would they know with all the stupid sounding American names like Wienberger or Kozlowski. Then I realised it would be pretty easy, just look for names that don't don't have junior, II, III or similar tagged on.

  8. hugo tyson

    American isolationism again

    Their view that people who are not USAans are not really people and don't really matter, and nor are USAans who consort with them, comes though very clearly, depressing isn't it. It's especially noticeable IMHO that US politicians and media/adverts always say "Americans want..." rather than "people want..." thus excluding anyone else from the debate/opinion-forming. Imagine if a British politician started always saying "Britons..." or "The English" instead of "people" - it would play right into the hands of the EDL et al, .....but America is already there.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To Paraphrase Benjamin Franklin

    Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Q: Are you happy with the Feds reading your email?

    A: Yes

    Q: Are you happy with your neighbour reading your email?

    A: Hell No

    Q: What if your neighbour is a Fed?

    A: But my neighbour isn't a Fed.

  11. Chris Miller

    And the moral is

    Don't put anything in a plain text email that you wouldn't write on a card and drop into the post.

    But then we all knew that, didn't we?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Just like those Zeitgeist dudes said...

    The regime of repression is not going to have to be forced upon the people.

    It will come because they demand it.

    Talk about social engineering - it doesn't come any better than this.

  13. John G Imrie Silver badge

    The missing question?

    Having listened in to your phone calls and read your emails, would you allow the Government to torture you to prove you are not a terrorist?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    "three out of ten"

    Well thats alright then, as they are already doing this if you agree or not..

    "over half of those surveyed thought that torture of suspected terrorists was OK"

    Well I hope they remeber this when there being rounded into FEMA camps for being dissenters when the banks finally fail and people are rioting in the streets with no jobs, no money and no where to live.

    God Bless the Land of the Free, with Love from Air Strip One.

    1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

      You really got it right!!

      What people do not consider is that, one day, THEY may be the targets of repression...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Tree, meet apple

      I think you exaggerate, sir. But where do you think the xenophobic attitude comes from? Americans didn't emigrate from Mars. Try being a foreigner in the UK for a week--even one of English ancestry who speaks English, mind you--and see how it makes you feel. "Not really a person" sums up my experience nicely. That US election adverts appeal to US voters about US concerns should surprise no one. I'm going to leave that one alone. But if you'd like a vote, you're probably welcome to emigrate, of course (you are British, right? Just checking).

      1. Baudwalk

        Newton, meet Apple

        What's so bad about being in the UK for a week?

        I've done it a few times in recent years, and always enjoyed myself.

        I actually felt oddly at home, despite being Danish with no English ancestry that I know of. (IIRC, there was one Scot in the family tree a century or two ago. But then the English and the Scots were always such good friends...)

      2. jake Silver badge

        @AC 08:53

        "Try being a foreigner in the UK for a week--even one of English ancestry who speaks English, mind you--and see how it makes you feel. "Not really a person" sums up my experience nicely."

        Try being a Californian of highschool age in Yorkshire ... I got me Os & As, despite the local schoolboys attempts at making my life miserable.

        Based on my reality, the British need to look within and get a heads-up ...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Heaven knows you're miserable now

          "despite the local schoolboys attempts at making my life miserable"

          Or 'preparing you for the reality of life in Yorkshire' as the case may be.

          Not sure what one puts one's head up in order to look within but I'll pass, ta.

        2. Anonymous Coward


          Both my foreign born and bred children are at universities in the North of England and they can't believe how friendly everybody is especially after what their mother had told them about her experience of living in London so think yourself lucky.

          As a Yorkshire lad I also suspect that what you took as making your life miserable was simple piss taking, if you'd have looked around, you'd have noticed that we do it to everybody. Maybe you were a little too sensitive.

        3. hplasm Silver badge

          The experience of any non-Yorkshireman

          - in Yorkshire. You're not special there...

          1. jake Silver badge


            And Yorkshiremen in Yorkshire, as well. It's part of the culture. As an Adult, around forty years on, I get it. As a 2nd former, from a completely different culture, some 6,000 miles away, it wasn't quite as obvious ...

            I was pointing out "schoolboy" behavior, not Adult ... Where do you think your chavs get it? Home, obviously (not that that is politically correct to point out), but it's reinforced on the playground amongst their peers ...

            Quite frankly, if I'm ever rich & famous, I'd love to purchase a small property out Malham way to hide out in, away from the press. I'm on record here on ElReg that I would be living in Yorkshire today if my roots didn't run so deep here in Northern California :-)

      3. Anonymous Coward

        @AC 08:53

        Sir you are just a prick with an attitude problem. I suspect that most of your problems come from the massive chip on your shoulder and I suspect that you speak to people very aggressively because you are expecting them to have a problem with you and it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

        Nobody should have to tiptoe around you so as not to offend just because you aren't native to the country but a prick is a prick no matter what the nationality.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      the other missing question

      The newspaper having listened to your voice mail and paid your ruling party not to look into the matter, would you still be mad enough at Gordon Brown to vote Lib Dem a second time?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up


        yes, after the Brits voting to have less voting freedom with the referendum I'm lost all hope for the UK. Please, please take away my choice.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I thought about flagging you, but I feel your ignorance will be instructive for the other readers. I think what you really mean to say is "stupid sounding Jewish and Polish names." Why don't you just come out and say it, self-described coward? *You* sound like an American from 120 years ago, when my Polish ancestors were treated like crap by my English and Irish ancestors, who didn't like each other much, either. Do you vote BNP? We don't officially have one of those yet, you do realize--even the Tea Party knows nobody better than to believe that anybody in a nation of immigrants would be able to stomach it.

      1. Anonymous Coward 101

        @Self described AC0916

        ...the point still stands. How do they know if the emails were sent to foreigners? And if they can know if an email is sent to a foreigner, does a red bulb start flashing at an FBI workstation?

        "Code Red! An American is sending an email to a Liechtensteinian! There can be no good reason for this - fetch a pair of pliers and a blowtorch!"

        1. Figgus

          How do they know the email is sent to foreigners?

          The non-us ISP probably gives it away. Just a thought... you should try that sometime!

          1. Anonymous Coward


            >The non-us ISP probably gives it away

            And what about those non-USAians who have, and various other webmail accounts, are they assumed to be Americans? Is any US citizen who has an account outside the US considered an honorary alien?

            1. Figgus

              Chris W

              Do you think Google doesn't know where that email's final destination is, at least if it is outside the US borders?

              There are much better and more effective ways to filter than by names. And yes, that would include citizens operating overseas just by the nature of the filter.

              Note that I am not in favor of snooping on citizens anyway, I'm just saying they probably aren't doing it just by name.

            2. Galidron

              @Chris W

              I'm betting all US citizens are considered an honorary alien until prove otherwise. Just look at Arizona.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Huh

        The BNP doesn't exist where I live and where I do live I'm an immigrant. Also, the in the local language the latter part of my name sounds like the word for penis however I don't go around with the same sort of chip you seem to have on your shoulder about strange names. In the words of Jim Davidson at the end of his shows, "If I've offended anybody, get a life".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          Lame excuses, especially the part about being an immigrant yourself--I guess I got through to you after all. And yes, I do have a chip on my shoulder when it comes to discrimination based on religion and ethnicity. I thought I'd lived to see the end of it, but it seems to be alive and well, on both sides of the ocean. Personally, I don't care if your name IS penis, as long as you don't act like a dick. In closing, congratulations on finding 7 bigots to up-vote you.


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