Most Say No to Government Regulation of Search Engines

Most Americans give high marks to Internet search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing and don’t think the government needs to regulate their responses.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 77% of Adults say there is no need for government regulation of the way that search engines select the recommendations they provide in response to search inquiries. Just 11% believe such regulation is necessary, while just as many (12%) are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here).

The most frequent Internet users are the least likely to think regulation is needed for search engine recommendations.

Some critics complain that the search engines favor some sites over others when returning recommendations.

But then just 21% of voters think the Federal Communications Commission should regulate the Internet like it does radio and television. Most voters worry that regulation would be used to push a political agenda.

The survey of 740 Adult Internet users nationwide was conducted on January 4-5, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

Opposition to government regulation of search engine responses runs high across virtually all demographic groups, although older Americans, among those least likely to go online regularly, register more indecision about the question than those who are younger.

Interestingly, despite frequently heard complaints about inappropriate Internet content, married Americans and those with children in the home are more strongly opposed to regulation than unmarrieds and those without children living with them.

Government workers are nearly three times as likely to see a need for a regulation of search engine responses than are those who work in the private sector.

Most adults (70%) say the bigger problem when using search engines is that their query generates too much irrelevant data, while just 13% say the problem is that they can’t find what they need. Most also feel search engines are generally fast enough.

However, they do worry about the privacy of their searches online.

But 70% of adults are concerned that Americans have become too dependent on computers and electronic devices. Two-thirds of adults (66%) now say they instinctively turn to the Internet to answer routine questions.


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