Aug 28, 2017

Survey finds support for net neutrality legislation

John Locher / AP

Axios got the first look at survey results out this morning finding that 74% of respondents said they support net neutrality legislation that would ban blocking, throttling and fast lanes on the internet — and that would apply to all internet companies (both ISPs like AT&T and edge providers like Google). That's notable since net neutrality discussions have typically targeted only ISPs.

The online survey was commissioned by CALinnovoates, a San Francisco-based tech advocacy group whose members include AT&T (which supports legislation), Uber, and a number of startups.

Findings include:

  • Younger Americans (18-29 year-olds) were nearly twice as likely to favor legislative action, the survey found.
  • People have become more concerned over the past few years about blocking, throttling, fast lanes and the general ability to access content and services on the internet.
  • 81% of people are more concerned about the privacy of their information on the internet.
  • People are also more concerned about the accuracy (69%) and reliability (67%) of information they receive online.
  • Despite these findings, nearly half (46%) said government should not play an active role in regulating and overseeing the internet.

Ping pong: CALinnovates Executive Director Mike Montgomery said it's time to stop the "political ping pong" of different approaches when it comes to the FCC's oversight. "We need to arrive upon a solution, he said. "We can't do this every time there's a new administration. That pendulum will continue swinging."

More discussion: Montgomery said he thinks the three bright line rules (including a ban on fast lanes) should be the foundation of any legislation, but thinks it's time for the tech and telecom industries to come to the table and hammer out a solution once and for all. To that end, CALinnovates wants to convene a drafting session "where we can go behind closed doors and come out with some semblance of a recommendation for Congress." That will probably happen in October.

Our thought bubble: There's a general feeling of net neutrality fatigue: people are getting wary of this decade-long fight and some companies and consumers want the issue settled already. But that's easier said than done, even with Republicans in charge. A Republican bill may not include a blanket ban on fast lanes. And even Democrats open to codifying net neutrality principles in law aren't necessarily open to ditching the Title 2 approach of the FCC's current rules.

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