Bipartisan Consensus is "Light Touch" the Right Approach for Internet Regulation


Another battle in the decade-long saga over internet regulation has erupted in Washington. After spending so much time with these issues, it can be hard for us to remove ourselves from the daily skirmishes, and listen to what actual consumers think about these issues. That is why NCTA conducted a survey with Morning Consult to take the consumer temperature on the issue of internet regulation. And while politics may be as divided as ever in our country, consumers share a strong bipartisan consensus that the government should let the internet flourish without imposing burdensome regulations.

The Morning Consult survey of 2,194 registered American voters shows that the majority of consumers across all political affiliations prefer that the government apply a light-touch when regulating the internet. The results further show that a strong majority believe the government should not regulate internet access as a public utility because such regulation would decrease private investment and worsen innovation.

When asked about the role of the federal government in regulating access to the internet, 78 percent of Americans said that either “the government should have a light touch approach that allows regulators to monitor the marketplace and take action if consumers are harmed or that the government should not regulate the internet at all. 

Broken out by political affiliation, this same survey question revealed that a majority of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans agree that light-touch regulation is better for the internet with 55 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of Republicans and Independents preferring a light touch approach to internet regulation.

And perhaps most convincing, over half of Americans said the “internet should not be considered a public utility and regulated by the federal government.”

In addition to preferring a light-touch approach to the internet, respondents agreed by 2:1 that internet regulations would decrease private sector tech investments. Specifically, 40 percent said that if the government were to regulate Internet access as a utility, tech investments would decrease with only 20 percent saying investments would increase. Similar numbers were seen when asking whether tech innovation would worsen under utility style internet regulation, with 43 percent saying innovation would get worse and only 21 percent saying it would get better.

Results of the survey can be found here.


Morning Consult Conducted a survey of 2,194 registered voters April 20th and April 24th, 2017. The data were weighted to approximate a target sample of registered voters based on age, race/ethnicity, gender, educational attainment, region, annual household income, home ownership status and marital status. The survey has a margin of error +/- 2%.