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Cable Lobby Survey: Americans Want Net Neutrality

17 May, 2017 By: Doug McPherson

WASHINGTON – A new survey from NCTA - the Internet & Television Association – found that a majority of 2,194 registered American voters support current net neutrality rules that prohibit ISPs from blocking, throttling, or prioritizing online content in exchange for payment.

The survey’s findings include:

  • Most respondents are opposed price regulation.
  • A majority supported an approach in which regulators take action against ISPs on a case-by-case basis when consumers are harmed.
  • 61 percent of respondents either “strongly” or “somewhat” support net neutrality rules that say ISPs “cannot block, throttle, or prioritize certain content on the internet.”
  • 18 percent oppose those net neutrality rules, while the rest don’t know what it is or had no opinion.

The survey asked, “When it comes to the role of the federal government in regulating access to the internet, which of the following comes closest to your view, even if none are exactly right?” Just 12 percent answered that “the government should have the ability to set specific prices, terms, and conditions for internet access,” while 53 percent said, “the government should have a light-touch approach to the internet that allows regulators to monitor the marketplace and take action if consumers are harmed.” The only other option people could choose was, “the government should not regulate the internet at all.”

Jon Brodkin a reporter with ARS Technica, says that technically, the survey results don’t contradict the official position of major cable companies like Comcast and Charter. These companies say they support the core net neutrality rules, while merely opposing the FCC’s use of its common carrier authority under Title II of the Communications Act to enforce them. But the net neutrality rules imposed in 2015 depend on Title II because of a 2014 court decision that prevented the FCC from enforcing the rules without reclassifying ISPs as Title II common carriers.

The survey comes just before the FCC’s scheduled vote on May 18 on whether to move forward with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to gut net neutrality rules. Meanwhile, FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, a Democrat, has called on the public to voice support for the net neutrality rules.

“In just a matter of days, the FCC’s majority will tee up an item aimed at dismantling the open internet protections that so many Americans fought for and won back in 2015,” Clyburn said in a speech at a broadband forum in Los Angeles last week. “So we cannot afford to remain silent.”

Clyburn, who voted in favor of the 2015 rules, warned that eliminating the regulations could affect people’s ability to access the Web. “In a world without net neutrality, your internet service provider could charge you even more to access your preferred websites, or worse, block those sites altogether,” she said.

In related news, comedian John Oliver released a video earlier this month urging viewers to visit the FCC’s site and advocate that ISPs stay under Title II regulation. The move generated more than half a million comments. Some commenters called out Oliver but most voiced their displeasure with internet providers.

Opponents of net neutrality have tapped similar tactics. On May 10, more than 128,000 comments appeared on the site criticizing Obama-era regulation and urging the FCC to void Title II. The comments are thought to be spawned by a bot, according to ZDNet, because even though the text is identical the names and ZIP codes are all different.

About the Author: Doug McPherson

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