Yes to Internet for all; No to regulation

The following headline from Broadband Census caught my eye: Half of Americans Say Broadband Must be Available to All, Government Must Not Regulate.

That’s like me saying yes to the chocolate chip cookie and no to the calories but according to a recent poll from Zogby, that’s what folks want. Here are some of the stats:

Pro Government Involvement

  1. 44% said that the federal government should guarantee universal Internet access to all Americans
  2. 20% said they believe Washington should provide personal computers to those who do not have one so they can access the Internet.
  3. 63% said Washington regulators ought to be able to shut down websites that use possible terrorist themes or that promote child pornography

Anti Government Involvement

  1. 4% percent said they think Washington should be involved in determining who gets what speed of Internet connection
  2. 78% agreed that taxing transactions on the Internet would seriously hamper online commerce and violate the spirit of the Internet as a free exchange.
  3. 12% said the U.S. government should sometimes or always be allowed to determine who can establish a website

While I can’t say that my answers to the questions would be far off the norm, I think the answers don’t take the whole picture into consideration. If we don’t tax the Internet, how are we going to pay the government to oversee potential terrorist or porn sites? If we don’t have the government step in with speed requirements, then what’s their role in guaranteeing universal Internet access? (Does dialup count?)

I’m not advocating one way or another but reminding the policy makers that to make the hard decisions you have to consider the whole picture.

Also I had to share one last fun fact from the poll: Asked if it were possible for them to have the Internet wired directly into their brains, 13% said they would like to do so, while 82% said they would decline such an opportunity.

This entry was posted in Policy, Research by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

4 thoughts on “Yes to Internet for all; No to regulation

  1. These are such difficult questions. I wonder if the answers were different if instead of “government regulation” the question were whether one favored having multiple service provider options available over the DSL, cable, or fiber connection (as was done 10 years ago).

    As for online taxes, if it were asked if we should continue discouraging local businesses by allowing giant online retailers to avoid paying taxes, there might be a different answer (although I shudder to think how many would still rather save a few bucks at the long term expense of their community).

  2. Chris – I think a lot has to do with how they ask the question, but also that the question seems to be asked in a vacuum where there are no causes or consequences. Unfortunately in the wrong hands I think that leads to policy decisions that fail to consider cause or consequence. Your example of saving a few bucks versus saving a local retail shop is perfect! It’s a shortsighted decision.

    Maybe we need to do a survey that asks about causes and consequences!

  3. Pingback: Minnesota Broadband Task Force Recommendations are unveiled! « Blandin on Broadband

  4. Pingback: How important is Government support of broadband? « Blandin on Broadband

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