FEATURED:

Poll finds skepticism on net neutrality

Most Americans aren’t familiar with what net neutrality is and aren’t totally convinced that regulators’ new rules are the way to go, according to a new poll.

Three-fourths say they are unfamiliar with what the concept of net neutrality — which calls for federal rules to require that Internet service providers such as Comcast give equal access to all websites — refers to, the survey found.

ADVERTISEMENT

And just one out of three Americans support the idea of regulating Internet service like phone lines, as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is in large part going to do.

The poll also found that 79 percent of respondents want the FCC to release the exact wording and details of its rules before the vote on Thursday, a step Chairman Tom Wheeler has declined to take, much to the consternation of his critics. 

“The public neither understands nor supports the FCC voting on net neutrality rules without greater disclosure of the exact wording and the details of the proposal,” said Peter Hart, the founder of Hart Research Associates, which conducted the poll.

The poll was conducted by Hart Research and released by the Progressive Policy Institute, a think tank that has opposed the FCC’s plan. Instead of reclassifying broadband Internet so that it can be treated under the agency’s rules for phone service, the think tank has pushed for milder rules and said the FCC should go after abuses on a case-by-case basis.

The findings may be bad news for net neutrality proponents, though they are at odds with other findings.

Polls last year found that many people were unfamiliar with the concept of net neutrality, but found stronger support for the idea, depending on how the question was worded. One automated poll, for instance, found that eight in 10 people agreed with the broad concept that Web providers should not be allowed to block, slow down or discriminate against online traffic, though it did not get into the regulatory structure to enforce those restrictions. 

The survey polled 800 adults earlier this month and has a margin of error of 3.46 percent.