Suncoast residents react to government snooping

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SARASOTA-- Should the government look into our phone calls and online activity as a way of protecting national security? It's a question that has Americans talking this week. The nation's top intelligence office has acknowledged the government collects huge amounts of user data.

One resident we spoke with says he doesn't see it as abuse.

"I don't think anything should be done about it," said Robert Thompson. "As long as our buildings are not falling, and we don't have another 9/11, they should do whatever it takes to protect us."

Two other residents have much different opinions.

"It's a little bit of an invasion of privacy and it's a little unconstitutional," said Mike Cahill. "I've got nothing to hide. They can look at whatever they want, but how far do they go?"

"They (government) should not be able to do it, but they have been doing it for years," said Ken Dunlap.

Andrea Mogensen, a Sarasota lawyer, is on the state legal panel for the ACLU. She echoes the national chapter, calling the snooping, "Beyond orwellian."

"It's shocking and it's alarming," said Mogensen. "As Americans, we have a constitutional right to privacy. We have a constitutional right to be from unreasonable search and seizure by our government. Where is the oversight?"

After September 11th, a CNN poll found 54% of Americans favored more government monitoring of cell phones and emails, but in April of this year, that number had dropped to 38%.