Poll: Voters support broad concept of net neutrality

More than eight in 10 people agree with the broad concept of net neutrality, according to an automated poll released Wednesday. 

The poll, conducted by Vox Populi Polling, found that 56 percent of people strongly agree that "it is critical" to prevent Internet service providers from "blocking, discriminating against, slowing down, or charging" for Internet traffic to certain websites. 

Another 26 percent of people somewhat agree. 

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The poll was sponsored by the Internet Freedom Business Alliance, which has called for the Federal Communications Commission to reclassify the Internet in a way similar to traditional telephones in order to ban Internet “fast lanes.” 

Another 65 percent of voters agree that large Internet service providers — like Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and Time Warner Cable — need oversight to "ensure that they deliver the Internet fairly."

Service providers have long maintained they are committed to the principles of net neutrality — that no Internet traffic should receive preferential treatment. But a battle in the FCC about its new open Internet rules has spurred disagreement about how much regulation is needed to enforce those rules. 

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is expected to unveil new proposed rules next month that would treat the Internet with regulations similar to traditional telephones, a plan President Obama and other advocates have supported. 

But Republicans and service providers have opposed the regulatory framework, saying the outdated, utility-style regulations would stifle innovation and potentially lead to higher fees for consumers. 

Republicans recently floated a draft proposal in Congress as an alternate path forward and are holding back-to-back hearings on it Wednesday. 

The poll did not ask about which authority should be used to enforce net neutrality rules. 

Last November, Obama called on the FCC to use the strongest authority possible to enforce the rules. Republicans came out quickly against his recommendations, with Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea GOP state lawmakers meet to plan possible constitutional convention MORE (R-Texas) calling the framework "ObamaCare for the Internet."

The poll found 39 percent of people said they were less likely to support Obama's recommendation after Cruz's statement — including 49 percent of Republicans. Another 28 percent said they were more likely, while 33 percent said Cruz's words had no impact. 

The poll surveyed 868 voters from Jan. 13-14 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percent.