Society

Survey Finds Americans In Favor Of Net Neutrality

| by Simone Stover

A recent survey suggests that the majority of Americans are in favor of the current FCC rules regarding net neutrality.

According to The New York Times, the FCC approved rules regarding the concept of net neutrality back in 2015. Under net neutrality, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are prohibited from favoring content from some sources over others. For example, this prevents them from allowing content creators -- such as media companies -- to pay more to have their content delivered faster.

As part of the net neutrality rules imposed in 2015, ISPs were classified as public utilities under Title II, reports Ars Technica. However, FCC chairman Ajit Pai has proposed changes to the 2015 rules which would undo this classification. 

On May 11, the NCTA, a cable lobbying group, released a survey that asked the opinion of registered American voters regarding net neutrality. The group said that the results of the survey showed a " strong bipartisan consensus that the government should let the internet flourish without imposing burdensome regulations."

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According to Ars Technica, the NCTA's assertion was most likely influenced by the results of one of the survey's questions, which asked about ISPs being regulated as utilities. 

The question asked: "As you may know, a public utility is an essential public service, such as electricity, water, or gas, that is regulated by government. Knowing this, which of the following do you agree with more, even if neither is exactly right?"

According to the survey's results, 51 percent of respondents said: "Internet access should not be considered a public utility regulated by the federal government." Only 33 percent said that it should be considered a public utility, while 16 percent said that they did not know or did not have an opinion. 

However, according to Ars Technica, the responses to other questions posed by the survey suggest that Americans are largely in favor of net neutrality. 

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For example, the NCTA posed the following question to those being surveyed: "As you may know, net neutrality is a set of rules which say [ISPs] such as Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T, and Verizon, cannot block, throttle or prioritize certain content on the Internet. Knowing this, do you support or oppose net neutrality?"

The results of this question showed that 61 percent of those surveyed either "strongly" or "somewhat" supported the concept of net neutrality. In contrast, only 18 percent said they either "strongly" or "somewhat" opposed it. The remaining 21 percent of those surveyed said they either did not know or did not have an opinion.

According to The Hill, the FCC is set to have an open meeting on May 18. During this meeting, the commission will vote on whether to move forward with Pai's plan to rollback ISPs' Title II classification. 

Sources: Ars Technica, NCTA (2), The New York Times, The Hill / Photo credit: OER Africa/Flickr

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