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61% Oppose Federal Regulation of the Internet

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Americans really like the online service they currently have and strongly oppose so-called “net neutrality” efforts that would allow the federal government to regulate the Internet.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 26% of American Adults agree the Federal Communications Commission should regulate the Internet like it does radio and television. Sixty-one percent (61%) disagree and think the Internet should remain open without regulation and censorship. Thirteen percent (13%) are not sure.  (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Only 19% believe more government regulation is the best way to protect those who use the Internet. Fifty-six percent (56%) feel more free market competition is the best protection. Twenty-five percent (25%) are undecided.

Most Americans have opposed increased government regulation of the Internet since December 2010 when some members of the FCC began pushing “net neutrality” efforts to stop some companies from offering higher downloading speeds to preferred customers.

Seventy-six percent (76%) of Americans who regularly go online rate the quality of their Internet service as good or excellent. Only five percent (5%) consider their service poor.

Americans remain suspicious of the motives of those who want government regulation of the Internet. Sixty-eight percent (68%) are concerned that if the FCC does gain regulatory control over the Internet, it will lead to government efforts to control online content or promote a political agenda, with 44% who are Very Concerned. Twenty-seven percent (27%) don’t share this concern about possible government abuse, but that includes only eight percent (8%) who are Not At All Concerned.

Fifty-six percent (56%) of voters said in December 2010 that if the FCC was given the authority to regulate the Internet, it would use that power to promote a political agenda.

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The survey of 1,000 American Adults was conducted on November 11-12, 2014 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Sixty-four percent (64%) of Americans support the FCC regulating profanity, violence and sexual content on TV and radio, but only 31% think it does a good or excellent job in this area.

Earlier this year, the FCC in the face of strong public opposition backed off a plan to determine if the news media is meeting the public’s “critical information needs.” Voters strongly believe news content is none of the federal government’s business.

Younger Americans are far more likely than their elders to use the Internet every day or nearly every day, but adults of all ages give high marks to the Internet service they receive.

Opposition to government regulation of the Internet is highest among Americans under 40 and those who use the Internet regularly.

Sixty-five percent (65%) of Republicans and 70% of adults not affiliated with either major party oppose FCC regulation of the Internet. Democrats agree but by a much narrower 48% to 37% margin.

But then only 33% of Democrats are Very Concerned that FCC regulatory control will lead to government efforts to control online content or promote a political agenda. That compares to 58% of Republicans and 43% of unaffiliateds.

Only 42% of all voters have been following recent news reports about Internet neutrality issues, with 18% who have been following Very Closely.

Most Americans also balk at the idea of government taxing business on the Internet.

Only 19% of voters now trust the federal government to do the right thing most or nearly all the time. Fifty-four percent (54%) consider the federal government today a threat to individual liberty rather than a protector of their rights.

Thirty percent (30%) of voters now are most likely to get their political news from the Internet.

Fifty-four percent (54%) think America’s increasing reliance on the Internet for business and financial transactions makes the economy more vulnerable to attack.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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