Pew: Most young Americans support Snowden

Fifty-seven percent of people ages 18 and 29 say Edward Snowden "served the public interest" by leaking NSA data. That figure falls to 35 percent among those older than 65.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger

Edward Snowden, the famed National Security Agency (NSA) leaker, has found himself in the good graces of young Americans, a new Pew Research study has found.

When asked whether Snowden "has served the public interest" or "has harmed public interest," 57 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 chose the former. Just 35 percent in that age group think he has harmed public interest.

Despite that, however, young Americans are split on whether Snowden should face charges, with 42 percent of people saying he should and another 42 percent saying he shouldn't.

Snowden has become a lightning rod of controversy since leaking NSA files to the media. The US is seeking criminal charges against him, but Snowden has so far kept out of reach from the country's legal arm. He's seeking asylum in several South American countries.

Young Americans might be willing to give Snowden the benefit of the doubt, but not so with older Americans. Those older than 65 were overwhelmingly against Snowden, with 53 percent saying that he "harmed public interest" and 61 percent saying that he should be charged in a criminal case. Americans between the ages of 50 and 64 aren't far off, with 47 percent saying that he harmed public interest and 63 percent saying he should be charged.

Despite all that, all of the age groups could agree on one thing: "Americans shouldn't have to give up privacy and freedom in order to be safe from terrorism."