Majority of Public Worried About NSA Surveillance

Nearly 60 percent disapprove of snooping on 'ordinary' Americans.

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(Cliff Owen/AP)
A woman talks on the phone in front of the U.S. Courthouse in Washington, D.C. where the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court resides.

The public is starting to get concerned about ongoing revelations that the federal government has undertaken a massive surveillance program that includes millions of "ordinary" Americans.

A new CBS News poll found that nearly 60 percent of Americans disapprove of the government's collecting phone records of ordinary people in its campaign to find would-be terrorists. Three-quarters approve of the government collecting the phone records of Americans suspected of actually being terrorists.

[READ: What's a Scandal and What is Not]

Fifty-seven percent said the leaks about the surveillance program would not affect the ability of the United States to prevent terrorist attacks while 30 percent said the disclosures would weaken government efforts to prevent terrorism.

Nearly six in 10 Americans said they were very concerned or somewhat concerned about losing privacy because of federal efforts to fight terrorism. But 46 percent said the government had found the right balance between privacy and security, while 36 percent said the government had gone too far.

[ALSO: Congress Enacted the NSA Laws, But Will They Change Them Now?]

Six in 10 said they were, as individuals, not very concerned or not at all concerned right now about the government collecting their phone records or monitoring their Internet use, while nearly four in 10 were somewhat or very concerned. Republicans and independents expressed more concern than Democrats.

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  • Is NSA Leaker Edward Snowden a Traitor or a Hero-Whistleblower?
  • Assange Says Snowden Should 'Go to Latin America'
  • Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog "Ken Walsh's Washington" for usnews.com and "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He is the author of the new book "Prisoners of the White House: The Isolation of America's Presidents and the Crisis of Leadership." Ken Walsh can be reached at kwalsh@usnews.com and on Facebook and Twitter.