Conservatives disputed an establishment Republican poll that allegedly shows overwhelming support for net neutrality. Many tech advocates and conservatives argue that the poll skews questions to show a false level of support for net neutrality.
Incompas, an internet trade group association, released a poll on Thursday at the National Press Club that allegedly shows tremendous Republican support for net neutrality.
In May, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) started the process to repeal the agency’s 2015 net neutrality order that would regulate the internet as a public monopoly. The 2015 rule, known as the Open Internet Order, reclassified the internet as a public monopoly. Critics chided the rule, claiming that it would diminish the freedom of the internet. Proponents argue that the regulations prevent Internet service providers from discriminating against content providers.
Many conservative and technology experts argue that the poll skews survey-takers towards supporting net neutrality.
The survey claims that 50 percent of voters support net neutrality; 51 percent of Republicans and 48 percent of Trump voters also argued that they support the net neutrality.
Evan Swarztrauber, communications director for TechFreedom, argued that net neutrality has many different meanings and that everyone supports an open internet. Swarztrauber explained:
Everyone supports a free and open Internet. To the extent that ‘net neutrality’ is shorthand for the open and free experience that every American has enjoyed for decades, then it’s no surprise that such a majority would support that. If we’re talking about Title II, monopoly-era utility regulation, then the numbers would be very different. It’d be interesting to see how many Americans view their utility services, like landlines, electricity, and sewage systems as ‘innovative.’ Would they support regulating the Internet in the same way as those static services? I doubt it.
Katie McAuliffe, the executive director of Digital Liberty, disputed the Incompas poll’s results.
“Starting out 75 percent of Americans have never even heard of net neutrality,” McAuliffe claimed.
One poll question posed, “Recently Congress voted to allow internet service providers like Comcast and AT&T to sell your private data and browser history to advertisers and other companies. Do you approve or disapprove of this action?” Eighty-three percent of those polled oppose having internet service providers (ISPs) sell your private data to advertisers.
McAuliffe explained this does not put the question of online privacy in context. She said:
They only asked about ISPs and privacy. When it comes to respect for information privacy, people don’t distinguish between ISPs & Web companies like Google and Facebook. When people hear that net neutrality rules don’t include privacy rules that apply to web companies, they are ~63% less favorable toward Net Neutrality.
The Incompas poll claims that 87 percent of voters, including 90 percent of Republicans, and 86 percent of Trump voters support internet protections to prevent companies such as Comcast and Verizon from blocking and throttling one’s access to the internet.
The Digital Liberty executive director revealed that contrary to the poll’s explanation, America does not need the FCC’s net neutrality order to prevent ISPs from blocking or slowing down one’s internet access. McAullife said, “No blocking is the only thing that gets people to support Net Neutrality – 60% supportive – but you don’t need Title II to stop blocking, in fact Title II doesn’t even prevent blocking because it allows curated internet services.”
McAullife also charged that the Incompas poll left out the vital question over whether Congress or the FCC should decide the future of the internet. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and his fellow Republican commissioner Michael O’Reilly have both argued that Congress should ultimately enact a solution to determine the future of the internet.
The thing they didn’t ask, which is the most important thing, is whether or not there should be legislation. Congress specifically said that the internet should not be treated as a Title II utility in the 1996 Telecommunications Act. The FCC reclassified without Congressional direction to do so. Across the political spectrum 75% of people think Congress should pass legislation rather than letting the issue ping pong based on who controls the FCC.
Henry Barbour, a Republican strategist and RNC member speaking at the Incompas panel, argued that rescinding net neutrality could give more power to MSNBC and CNN. Barbour said, “As Republicans, if we take away control of the internet from voters and give it to companies like MSNBC and CNN that are giving Trump 92% negative coverage – we need our heads examined.” Barbour did not explain exactly how repealing the FCC’s net neutrality order would give more power to news corporations such as MSNBC or CNN.
If policy is personnel, as Reagan and conservative activist Morton Blackwell have argued, then Incompas should be worried. As Breitbart News previously reported, Henry Barbour, along with other establishment Republicans, wrote a 2012 RNC autopsy report that specifically called for the Republican party to grant amnesty to illegal aliens.
In 2014, a coalition of conservative leaders demanded that former Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus censure Henry Barbour for his role in racially incendiary appeals to Democratic voters that voting for Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) was a means to help stop the growth of the Tea Party.
Phil Kerpen, president of the conservative group American Commitment, told Breitbart News that this poll amounts to nothing more than fake news. Kerpen declared, “The Borat star who commissioned this absurdly worded poll is obviously incapable of embarrassment.”