The Future of Tech Commission is an independent and bipartisan working group of civic leaders developing a comprehensive, inclusive tech policy agenda for the nation.
The Future of Tech Commission
Thursday, September 23, 2021
Poll: Nine out of Ten Voters Support Strong Online Privacy Protections While Eight Out of Ten Strongly Support Holding Social Media Companies More Accountable for “Illegal and Harmful Content” Posted on Their Sites
New polling to be Released by the Future of Tech Commission Finds Strong Bi-Partisan Support for Comprehensive Federal Technology Policy.
WASHINGTON, DC -- An overwhelming majority of American voters support strong online privacy protections while eight out of ten strongly support holding social media companies more accountable for “illegal and harmful content” posted on their sites, according to a recent survey conducted by the Benenson Strategy Group and Public Opinion Strategies for The Future of Tech Commission.
Americans demonstrated grave concerns that tech companies can reach too far into their lives, and expressed strong bipartisan support for government action. The survey finds that nine in ten voters across party lines support ‘privacy by default’ and that eighty percent of American voters overall -- 83% of Democrats and 78% of Republicans -- believe the federal government “needs to do everything it can to curb the influence of big tech companies that have grown too powerful and now use our data to reach too far into our lives.”
The Future of Tech Commission is an independent and bipartisan working group of civic leaders who are developing a comprehensive, inclusive tech policy agenda for the nation. The Commission was formed in response to discussions with the White House and Federal Communications Commission, and is co-chaired by Former Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick, Former Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, and Common Sense Media Founder and CEO James P. Steyer.
The survey, conducted with more than 2,000 registered voters nationwide, shows rare bipartisan consensus when it comes to concerns about the power of Big Tech today and Americans’ inability to protect themselves and their children. Moreover, in an era when the electorate is more polarized than it has been in decades, voters across the political spectrum are united in believing that the federal government should protect them and curb the growing influence of Big Tech.
Margaret Spellings, former U.S. Secretary of Education and CEO and President of Texas 2036, said, “Americans across backgrounds and party lines agree: we have a right to make choices over use of our own personal data. American businesses and consumers face an opportunity to ensure America’s standing as the premier global leader by calling on their government to lead on tech.”
The survey finds that 82% of voters agree that “we need universal access to high-speed internet to ensure our kids get the education they need to compete and win in a global economy;” and 73% agree that “access to high-speed internet is as critical to families today as running water and electricity.”
Former Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick said, “Americans have made clear that broadband is a core utility in their lives, essential to education, commerce, health and much more, and all Americans must have access. But they have also made clear that tech companies must operate within boundaries.”
85% of Democratic voters and 74% of Republicans agreed that the federal government should reform Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act to hold social media companies more accountable for “illegal and harmful content” posted on their sites.
James P. Steyer, Founder and CEO of Common Sense Media said, “This poll demonstrates the urgency for our elected leaders to craft a coordinated tech blueprint for our nation. Americans are united in their desire for the government to protect our families and our democracy from big tech power and hold companies accountable. Now is the moment to act.”
The survey finds that voters feel like they don’t know how to protect their personal data and privacy on the internet today. Almost two-thirds say they are “likely” to be a victim of cybercrime within the next 5 years, and more than half of voters say “preventing foreign adversaries from hacking our national infrastructure” is an extremely important priority to them.
“Seeing this kind of agreement among Democrats and Republicans on any issue in the last 10 to 15 years is extremely rare,” said Joel Benenson, who was the lead pollster for President Barack Obama. “Data like this should be eye opening for every lawmaker and impel them to act quickly to protect all Americans, especially children, with tougher privacy measures,” Benenson added.
Parents especially expressed strong concerns regarding their children, with 60% of parents saying they feel like they “have no control” over what their kids are exposed to online. Roughly 9 in 10 parents support expanding privacy protections for children, and 85% support making schools online “privacy zones.”
Even among all voters, with or without children, seven in 10 across all political stripes - Democrats, Republicans and Independents - want more restrictions on tech companies’ use of their personal data.
Hyperlink to full topline results of the survey here.
Methodology: Benenson Strategy Group conducted 2,016 interviews with registered voters nationwide from July 20-29, 2021. Interviews were conducted via traditional landline calling, SMS, and online panel, and the data was weighed to ensure a representative sample of this voter universe. The margin of error for the entire sample is ±2.07% at the 95% confidence level.
For more information on the Future of Tech Commission, visit FutureOfTechCommission.org.
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