Survey: Majority Want Net Neutrality Rules

A new Morning Consult/Politico poll finds that a majority (60%) of respondents support FCC rules that would prevent ISPs from blocking, throttling and "prioritizing certain content."

Those are the rules the FCC is reconsidering under FCC chairman Ajit Pai.

There was essentially no political divide over that, with 59% of Republicans supporting such rules and 59% of Democrats, Morning Consult reported. The margin of error was not available at presstime. 

The question was asked this way: "As you may know, net neutrality is a set of rules adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which say Internet Service Providers (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?" 

Actually, ISPs have said they do not oppose enforceable prohibitions on blocking and throttling, though paid prioritization is a fuzzier area. What ISPs do not want is the FCC to continue to define them as common carriers subject to at least some of what they say are last-century rules that discourage investment and innovation—and at least leave open the possibility of rate regulation, either before or after the fact.

ISPs also supported a non-common carrier based set of net neutrality rules under then FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, except for Verizon, which sued and began the legal battle that resulted in FCC chairman Tom Wheeler's Title II (common carrier) redefinition in the 2015 Open Internet order—which also included the bright line rules against blocking, throttling or paid prioritization, as well a general conduct standard and applying Title II to business-to-business interconnections as well as last-mile ISP connections to subs.

Pai is proposing rolling back Title II, for both wired and wireless ISPs and interconnections, getting rid of the general conduct standard, and reconsidering whether the bright line rules are necessary or perhaps can be enforced through other means, including voluntary guidelines ISPs say they will promise to adhere to. That would mean the Federal Trade Commission could enforce them as promises that must be kept. 

The poll was conducted June 15-19 of 2,051 registered voters. The margin of error is plus or minus 2%.

(Photo via Frankieleon's FlickrImage taken on Feb. 14, 2017 and used per Creative Commons 2.0 license. The photo was cropped to fit 9x16 aspect ratio.)

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.