Who believes that the NSA spied on Germans? Apparently, not Germans

The NSA is back in the news, as information surfaced that the agency has monitored German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone calls since 2002 (along with numerous other European officials).

For some reason, the public was surprised by this revelation, despite the peek Edward Snowden offered at the vast stores of NSA surveillance information and the fact that documented NSA spying has been going on since the Cold War. So, we at Survata were curious if trust in the U.S. Government varies by European and American respondents when it came to NSA spying allegations.

We used our consumer survey tool to ask 2,427 respondents across the U.S. and five European countries if they believe that the U.S. Government gathered information on European officials (even though the NSA has not denied the allegations). After excluding respondents who weren’t familiar with the story, we found that only 51% of European respondents believe the NSA spied on European officials, while 23% do not, and 26% are not sure. The results showed that U.S. respondents are significantly more likely to believe the NSA allegations:

Disbelief in Deutschland

Our results showed that American respondents, at 62%, are the most likely to believe that the NSA spied on European officials. Interestingly, Germany, the country currently at the epicenter of the scandal, is the least likely to believe the allegations are true (45%). See the full breakdown by country below:

E.U. outrage?

Unsurprisingly, we found that the U.S. is the least likely to be upset over the NSA spying scandal, as only 13% responded that they would be “extremely upset” if the allegations were true. France is the country most likely to be “extremely upset” over the NSA surveillance at 31%, followed closely by Italy.

Our take

We were surprised by the number of people who do not believe that the NSA gathered intelligence on European officials. While the degree to which the agency spied is still largely unknown, the charge itself has gone largely uncontested by the U.S. Government. And since there are rumors that the NSA spied on the Pope, we don’t think anyone can be considered out of bounds.

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Footnotes for our fellow data geeks

  1. We interviewed 2,427 online respondents from October 29 to November 1, 2013
  2. You can download the underlying data here.
  3. You can analyze the underlying data in Statwing.