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A Transatlantic Trends Issue Poll

November 2013

Trends Brief
TRANSATLANTIC MAJORITIES OPPOSE DOMESTIC SURVEILLANCE PROGRAMS In this question, respondents were asked: Do you think the [own country] government is justified in collecting the telephone and internet data of its citizens as part of the effort to protect national security, or do you think this activity goes too far in violating citizens privacy and is therefore not justified? Majorities on both sides of the Atlantic, and a plurality in the United Kingdom, said that surveillance carried out by national governments of their own citizens, even as part of an effort to protect national security, was not justified. Germans registered the strongest opposition: 70% said that it was not justified, while 25% disagreed. French, Swedish, and British respondents were most likely to say that domestic surveillance was justified (35%, 34%, and 33%, respectively). Americans fell roughly in the middle. Twenty-eight percent felt that the use of surveillance by governments against their own citizens is justified, more than in Germany (25%), while 54% said that it is not justified, more than in Sweden (52%), France (52%), or Great Britain (44%). Eighteen percent

Summary: While the NSA surveillance scandal made headlines in Europe and the United States, its effect on the transatlantic relationship remains ambiguous. Respondents opposed surveillance carried out by any government, including their own. Opposition was generally very high: there was not a majority in any country that approved of government surveillance, and pluralities or majorities said it was not justified in every country polled.

Transatlantic Majorities Oppose Domestic Surveillance


by Constanze Stelzenmller and Josh Raisher
Recriminations have been flying back and forth across the Atlantic since early June, when allegations were published in several newspapers that the United States National Security Agency (NSA) had, through a program called PRISM, been monitoring the phone and internet communication of Americans and Europeans often with the assistance of global telecommu nications, social media, and internet service provider companies. Edward Snowden, the former NSA employee who was the source of much of the disclosed classified information, was publicly identified on June 9, 2013. The issue has been the focus of U.S. and European headlines since, and the debate heated up once more after revelations in October that the communications of millions of French citizens had been tapped along with the cell phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Consequently, the Transatlantic Trends program conducted a brief issue poll online in five countries to probe public views about surveillance.1

1744 R Street NW Washington, DC 20009 T 1 202 683 2650 F 1 202 265 1662 E info@gmfus.org

1 The poll was conducted separately from Transatlantic Trends 2013, whose fieldwork was already under way at the time (June 3-27).

A Transatlantic Trends Issue Poll

Trends Brief
Majorities Oppose Surveillance by Own Government
100

5 25

18

13

14

23

80

28
Percent 60

35

34 33
Don't know Justified

40

70 54 52 52 44

20

Not justified

Germany

U.S.

France

Sweden

United Kingdom

Q2. Do you think the [COUNTRY'S] government is justified in collecting the telephone and internet data of its citizens as part of the effort to protect national security, or do you think this activity goes too far in violating citizens' privacy and is therefore not

... And by Allied Governments


100

8 20

15

18

22

80

27

30
Percent 60

27 33 30
Don't know Justified

40

72 55 55 44 43

Not justified

20

Germany

France

Sweden

U.S.

United Kingdom

Q3. And how about citizens of allied countries? Do you think national governments are justified in collecting the telephone and internet data of citizens in other allied countries as part of the effort to protect national security, or do you think this activity goes too far in violating individuals' privacy and is therefore not justified?

A Transatlantic Trends Issue Poll

Trends Brief
of U.S. respondents said that they did not know if it is or is not justified. AND FEEL THE SAME ABOUT SURVEILLANCE IN ALLIED COUNTRIES In this question, respondents were asked: And how about citizens of allied countries? Do you think national governments are justified in collecting the telephone and internet data in other allied countries as part of the effort to protect national security, or do you think this activity goes too far in violating citizens privacy and is therefore not justified? Respondents felt similarly about surveillance carried out by governments of citizens in other allied countries, with majorities or pluralities responding that it is not justified. Again, Germans expressed the strongest opposition, with 72% saying it is not justified and 20% saying it is. stable, for the most part, over the past decade. Pluralities in both Europe and the United States have said that they would like the relationship to become closer or remain the same, while minorities have said that they would prefer that their country take a more independent approach. The distribution of opinions represented in the online September poll is very similar. Thirteen percent of British respondents said that the relationship should become closer, while only 26% said that the European Union should take a more independent approach. Twenty-six percent said that they did not know. In France, 27% said that the relationship should become closer, 23% said the relationship should remain about the same, and 33% said that the EU should take a more independent approach. Seventeen percent said that they did not know. Twenty-three percent of Swedish respondents and 15% of German respondents said that the relationship should become closer. In Sweden, 26% said the relationship should stay about the same; 34% of Germans agreed. Thirty-two percent of Swedes and 44% of Germans said the EU should take a more independent approach in the transatlantic diplomacy and security partnership.

Two significant differences are apparent. Americans were more likely to see surveillance of foreign citizens as justified: 33% responded that it is more than in any other country. Nonetheless, 44% of Americans responded that surveillance in allied countries is not justified. Swedish respondents, on the other hand, were less likely to say that surveillance was justified when carried out in allied countries: 27% of Swedes said that it was, while 34% said the same of domestic Transatlantic Relationship Remains Stable surveillance. Fifty-five percent 100 of Swedes said that it was not, compared to 52% who said the same of domestic surveillance. French and British respondents were, after Americans, the most likely to say that surveillance of citizens in allied countries is justified (both 30%). TRANSATLANTIC RELATIONSHIP LARGELY STABLE The national phone surveys for Transatlantic Trends 2013 showed that the transatlantic relationship has remained
80 33 Percent 60 44 26 32 23

Should take a more independent approach Should remain the same

40

23 35 34

26

28

20 27 13 0 France United Kingdom 15 Germany 23 Sweden 24 U.S. Should become closer

Q1:Do you think that the partnership in security and diplomatic affairs between the U.S. and the EU should become closer, should remain about the same, or should the EU/U.S. take a more independent approach from the U.S./EU?

A Transatlantic Trends Issue Poll

Trends Brief
Twenty-four percent of Americans said the relationship should become closer, 28% said the relationship should remain the same, 23% said the United States should take a more independent approach from Europe, and 25% said they did not know. On the whole, majorities in the United States and France (52% and 50%, respectively), and pluralities in Germany (49%), Sweden (49%), and the United Kingdom (48%) felt that the relationship should either become closer or remain the same. Despite widespread opposition to both domestic and foreign surveillance programs, neither appears to have had a significant impact on popular views of the transatlantic relationship or desires for its future. METHODOLOGY The issue poll was part of an online omnibus poll conducted by TNS Opinion (which also conducts the fieldwork for Transatlantic Trends) between September 6 and September 9, 2013, in five of the thirteen countries surveyed in Transatlantic Trends: France, Germany, Sweden, the United States, and the United Kingdom. The poll consisted of three questions; two were formulated specially for the poll, and a third was repeated from the June survey. The survey was conducted online by means of CAWI (Computer Assisted Web Interviews). The sample size in each country was roughly 1,000. To achieve a sample that was as diverse as possible, respondents were recruited from an existing set of online panels available in the survey countries. The online panels consist of pre-recruited respondents that are employed in a variety of research studies. They are assembled in such a way that all key demographic groups (e.g. gender, age) are represented. Invitations to participate in the survey were sent to panel members at the beginning of fieldwork, with further email reminders sent out over the course of the fieldwork period.2 Because the issue poll was conducted online, the sample differs in a few significant ways from that used for the standard Transatlantic Trends poll. In the yearly poll, respondents are either interviewed by phone (cell or landline) or face-toface. In this online survey, the sample was slightly younger respondents were 16-64 (18-64 in the United States),
2 For more detail, see the Methodological Note by TNS on www.transatlantictrends.org.

compared to 18-99 in our yearly phone survey. Respondents in this online survey also tend to be generally better educated than those in the programs yearly phone survey. Finally, respondents are more likely to answer Dont Know when a poll is conducted online, because this option is listed specifically in online polls, while it is a spontaneous, volunteered answer in phone interviews.

About the Authors


Dr. Constanze Stelzenmller has been a senior transatlantic fellow with the German Marshall Fund of the United States in Berlin since 2009, and has directed the Transatlantic Trends program since 2012. She served as the director of the Berlin office from 2005 to 2009. Josh Raisher is program coordinator with the Transatlantic Trends program.

About Transatlantic Trends


Transatlantic Trends is a comprehensive annual survey of U.S. and European public opinion, covering topics including foreign and security policy, economics, immigration, and the state of the transatlantic relationship. Now in its twelfth year, the survey polls a sample of 1,000 randomly selected adults per country in the United States, Turkey, and eleven EU countries. For full datasets and reports, visit www.transatlantictrends.org.

About GMF
The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) strengthens transatlantic cooperation on regional, national, and global challenges and opportunities in the spirit of the Marshall Plan. GMF does this by supporting individuals and institutions working in the transatlantic sphere, by convening leaders and members of the policy and business communities, by contributing research and analysis on transatlantic topics, and by providing exchange opportunities to foster renewed commitment to the transatlantic relationship. In addition, GMF supports a number of initiatives to strengthen democracies. Founded in 1972 as a non-partisan, non-profit organization through a gift from Germany as a permanent memorial to Marshall Plan assistance, GMF maintains a strong presence on both sides of the Atlantic. In addition to its headquarters in Washington, DC, GMF has offices in Berlin, Paris, Brussels, Belgrade, Ankara, Bucharest, Warsaw, and Tunis. GMF also has smaller representations in Bratislava, Turin, and Stockholm.