A new poll confirms that “net neutrality” rules targeted for extinction by the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and the Trump administration are popular with internet users across the political spectrum.
The late June survey of 2,475 adults, conducted online and supplemented by phone interviews with an additional 256 people, found 81 percent support the regulations, which require internet service providers (ISPs) like Verizon and Comcast to treat everyone equally when it comes to moving data along the information superhighway.
Even more people, 88 percent, agreed that "when I buy internet service, I am paying to transmit information between my computer and the websites I visit, free from interference." That unencumbered flow of digital information is a cornerstone of the net neutrality rules.
The survey was conducted by the data science firm Civis Analytics on behalf of DC-based Freedman Consulting. Its release comes as Common Cause, other groups, and tens of thousands of internet users prepare for Wednesday’s nationwide “day of action” to preserve net neutrality.
Repealing the rules would give ISPs freedom to create “fast” lanes, which would give preferential treatment to individuals and companies they favor or those willing to pay a premium to move their news, entertainment, commentary, and other data along the net. That effectively could shut out people who want to circulate ideas that the ISP’s don’t like or who can’t afford to pay for the fast lanes.
The survey "confirms what I'm hearing from all over the country—people want to control their own internet experiences rather than have powerful gatekeepers do it for them," said Michael Copps, a former FCC commissioner now serving as special adviser to Common Cause’s Media and Democracy Reform Initiative.
The survey was first reported on the Motherboard website. It was disclosed in advance of Wednesday’s scheduled national “day of action” to protest the net neutrality rollback pushed by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.
In an essay published Monday in The Hill newspaper, Copps and former FCC commissioner Gloria Tristani argue that if Pai’s proposal is adopted “we could see an internet where big cable companies decide who should have a voice and which businesses succeed and fail. Much of the business community, especially job-creating small businesses, is strongly behind net neutrality.
“More than 1,000 startups nationwide have signed a letter supporting the current rules,” the essay adds. “As the Civis Analytics poll shows, Americans understand the importance of an open Internet to economic growth and innovation, with 90 percent in agreement that protecting a level playing field on the internet makes it easier for small businesses and startup companies to grow and succeed.”
Office: Common Cause National
Issues: Media and Democracy
Tags: Net Neutrality