The percentage of respondents who were "very concerned" has dropped compared to a similar poll conducted in September 2000, while those who said they were "not too concerned" has risen, Gallup reported in a poll released Thursday.
The latest poll found 35 percent of those asked were "very concerned" about the government's ability to tap into an individual's computer and track their Internet usage. That's a dramatic decline from 13 years ago, when 47 percent expressed similar concerns.
At the same time, 20 percent of those polled said they were "not too concerned," an increase of 4 percent over the same period. A similar rise of unconcern was expressed by those who said they were "not at all concerned" -- from 11 percent in 2000 to 15 percent this month.
Asked about their concerns about the government's ability to tap into files maintained on home computers, 54 percent said they were "very concerned" in 2000, while 41 percent had that same level of concern this year. Some 16 percent said they were "not too concerted" in 2000; 20 percent held that opinion in the current poll.
The results were similar for concerns over software that could tap into all Internet e-mail. Some 53 percent were "very concerned," a decline from 63 percent in 2000. Conversely, those who were "not too concerned" rose from 9 percent to 15 percent.
Respondents who said they were "somewhat concerned" rose slightly for the three issues, but in no case more than 3 percent.
The poll was conducted in the aftermath of revelations by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden of U.S. government spying on the private communications of U.S. citizens.
In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the poll said, "Americans may be more accustomed to the idea of government monitoring of Internet activities, and expect that it happens."
The poll was conducted Oct. 3-6 with 887 Internet users. The margin of error was 4 percentage points.