Do you think it's okay for the government to review phone records and emails as part of an effort to prevent a future terror attack?

Mario Tama, Getty Images

Fifty-six percent of Americans believe the National Security Agency's program tracking the telephone records of millions of citizens is an acceptable way for the government to investigate terrorism, according to a new Pew Research Center - Washington Post survey.

The poll also finds 45 percent of people think the government should be able to monitor everyone's email and other online activities to prevent a future terrorist attack, while 52 percent say the government should not be able to do this.

"This is the perfect time for a national dialogue on what does privacy mean, and how do we ensure it and protect out liberties in a time when technology is getting well out of hand in our ability to understand it? We've given up a lot of personal privacy already - the question is at what point does it stop," says FDU Professor of Homeland Security Studies Pat Schuber.

He points out there's always been a kind of pendulum swing in the nation with the government tilting towards more freedom or more security, depending on whether there's an external or internal threat, but now we've reached a point where we need to define the war on terror, and discuss when it will ever end, and how that corresponds to our liberties.

"We are at a point where we do need to use all the technology we have available to us to ensure the public safety," says Schuber. "But, at the same time, we haven't really reviewed our laws on privacy in quite some time - perhaps security and our liberty is starting to get out of balance."