Beating a Dead Horse: Public Opinion on Net Neutrality

Beating a Dead Horse Courtesy eBaums World

Much was made of the recent Rasmussen Reports poll that produced the statistic “53% Oppose FCC Regulation of the Internet.”

The Rasmussen poll is unadulterated bullshit.  Here’s why:

Public Ignorance: The public is overwhelmingly ignorant of what Net Neutrality is.  Case in point – of the people polled by Rasmussen, only 20 percent responded that they were “closely following” the news on net neutrality.  This leaves the vast majority of respondents open to manipulation (which Rasmussen takes advantage of with misleading questions).

Framing of the Issue: The telecommunications corporations have been very skillful at controlling how the Net Neutrality debate is positioned.  The news media have adopted their false version of the narrative: that the Internet was going along fine and now the FCC wants to meddle with it.  As I wrote previously, the actual narrative is as follows:

  1. The Internet was set up with Net Neutrality as the unofficial standard for data being transmitted online.
  2. The Telecoms (seeking to increase profits) tried to eliminate Net Neutrality in 2006 with the Orwellian “Communications Opportunity Promotion and Enhancement Bill of 2006” and a variety of other means (explained quite well by
  3. Advocates for Net Neutrality have, since 2006, been fighting to formally enshrine Net Neutrality as the official standard beginning with the Markey Amendment to the COPE Bill in 2006.

Flawed Survey Instrument: Here are the actual questions Rasmussen Research posed to respondents (courtesy of SClayton at DailyKos):

  1. “How closely have you followed stories about Internet neutrality issues?”
  2. “Should the Federal Communications Commission regulate the Internet like it does radio and television?”
  3. “What is the best way to protect those who use the Internet—more government regulation or more free market competition?”
  4. “If the Federal Communications Commission is given the authority to regulate the Internet, will they use that power in an unbiased manner or will they use it to promote a political agenda?”

This thing reads like it was hand-written on a scroll of human skin in the blood of a puppy by a soulless, goat-legged AT&T lobbyist.  Here are some of the many things that are false/misleading in the way the questions are posed:

  • The FCC already regulates the Internet like it does radio and television.  Asking that question (which the poll does twice) creates the impression that this is a new phenomenon.
  • “More government regulation” or “more free market competition” are not mutually-exclusive in this case.  Preserving Net Neutrality increases “free market competition.”  Leaving it unprotected or eliminating it (like the FCC stupidly did for wireless providers) means the Telcos can limit free market competition by charging fees for premium access that only the wealthiest can afford – leading to monopolization.
  • The wording is completely loaded.  People hear “government regulation” and automatically their eyes turn red and they start gnashing their teeth (thanks to decades of conditioning by right-wing think tanks).

I’d love to know who paid Rasmussen for the poll, but unfortunately Rasmussen is a private organization so they keep details like that secret.

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