Survey Says: Americans Befuddled by 'Net Neutrality'

Only a quarter of Americans are familiar with the term net-neutrality and among those that are, only 38% view regulation of the Internet by the Federal Communications Commission under Title II reclassification favorably.

That's according to phone survey conducted last week by Hart Research Associates for the Progressive Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank founded during the Clinton administration..

"Net neutrality is near net zero understanding," Peter Hart, founder of Hart Research Associates, said.

The survey of 800 adults age 18 and over also found that 73% of Americans want greater disclosure of the details of the FCC's proposal to regulate the Internet, and 79% favor public disclosure of the exact wording and details of the FCC's proposal before the agency votes on it Feb. 26.

Here is the survey and how the questions were asked that elicited those responses.

Broken down by political party, Democrats generally favor Internet regulation by the FCC, with 51% saying they believe it would be more helpful and 33% saying it would be more harmful. Independents and Republicans were more likely to go the opposite direction; only 28% of Independents and 11% of Republicans said they thought FCC regulation would do more good than harm, while 55% of Independents and a whopping 80% of Republicans said Internet regulation would be more harmful..

"These findings suggest that the FCC's bid to impose outdated telephone regulations on the Internet is driven more by professional activists than by the public, which seems instinctively to resist the idea," Will Marshall, PPI president, said. "That's why Congress should take a closer look at what the FCC is up to and make sure these issues get a thorough public airing."

The full results of the survey, conducted Feb. 13-15, are available at PPI's website.