Net neutrality and survey design

by Henry Farrell on September 22, 2006

Via “Public Knowledge”:, this “press release”: from the Senate Commerce Committee touting a survey which reveals that an overwhelming majority of the American public oppose net neutrality. Or perhaps not. The exact question asked was:

Which of the following two items do you think is the most important to you:

Delivering the benefits of new TV and video choice so consumers will see increased competition and lower prices for cable TV


Enhancing Internet neutrality by barring high speed internet providers from offering specialized services like faster speed and increased security for a fee

Given how egregiously the question was loaded, the surprise is that one third of the respondents went for the second option. It’s probably superfluous to mention that the survey was funded by Verizon, and carried out by a ‘bipartisan’ group of bought-and-paid-for hacks from Public Opinion Strategies and Joe Lockhart’s Glover Park Group.



William Goodwin 09.22.06 at 11:09 pm

I don’t get this part of the press release:

“The survey found broad support for a “Consumer Internet Bill of Rights,” like that contained in the Senate’s communications bill. The provision contained in the Senate bill prevents Internet service providers from blocking access to competitors or degrading a consumer’s broadband service.”

I haven’t read the “Consumer Internet Bill of Rights,” and I’m sure it contains all sorts of sops to the telecom industry. But isn’t making it illegal to block access to competitors or degrade service exactly what most of us mean by net neutrality? (Maybe they will allow companies to degrade service to other Web sites, but not to consumers? But how could you do the former and not the latter?)

I’m not saying that the poll isn’t egregious, just that this part of the survey doesn’t seem to demonstrate what Verizon wanted it to.


bi 09.23.06 at 12:53 am

To go off on a tangent: if I see anything that bills itself the “___ Bill of Rights”, I’ll be inclined to think that it’s a piece of spin, or at best a work of crankiosity.


cm 09.23.06 at 2:57 am

Well, what do you favor, lifetime free beer, food, and porn, or the right to elect representatives to represent you in the house of representatives?


cm 09.23.06 at 2:58 am

Oops, I forgot the “for a fee” part. Not sure where.


cm 09.23.06 at 3:00 am

Heck, what do you favor, “heads we win”, or “tails you lose”?


cm 09.23.06 at 3:01 am

Well, again, “for a fee”.


cm 09.23.06 at 3:02 am



Jacob Christensen 09.23.06 at 6:59 am

We now know the answer to the eternal question: “Do they think we’re that stupid?”.

Yes, they think we’re that stupid. U.S. politics really are scaring these days.

And just to state the obvious: Never, ever accept the results of an opinion poll, any opinion poll, until you know exactly which questions were asked and how the “don’t knows” and “did not answers” were treated.


bi 09.24.06 at 1:19 pm

All right… I’m going to call my home page the something something something Bill of Rights.


Shalom Beck 09.25.06 at 3:04 am

Somebody has been taking drafting lessons from the PQ!

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