Hands Off Our E-Mail

tshoop@govexec.com

In case anyone was thinking of suggesting that federal agencies should begin snooping in on private e-mail, a new survey shows that Americans aren't too hot on the idea.

A poll on technology and the Internet, conducted by the Luntz Research Companies of Arlington, Va., for Merrill Lynch, shows that 74 percent of Americans think the government should not be allowed to read their e-mail even if it would help fight crime or improve national security.

"Freedom of speech is sacred to almost all Americans and they don't want Big Brother reading their mail, whether it be on paper or in a computer," said Frank Luntz, president of Luntz Research Companies.

The survey also asked Americans to describe where they see themselves on the information superhighway. Almost half of the respondents said they were "not even on the road." Only 15 percent described themselves as "drivers" on the infobahn.

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