POLL: Majority of Americans support regulating, breaking up Big Tech
Ailan Evans, DCNF
A majority of Americans believe major tech companies are too powerful, and support the government regulating and breaking them up, according to a new poll.
The poll, conducted from June 7 to 12 and released Wednesday by Change Research on behalf of progressive groups CAP Action and Public Citizen, found that 81% of respondents believe Big Tech and social media companies are too powerful, with 73% at least “somewhat convinced” they should be regulated and broken up. Republicans had a less favorable view of tech companies than Democrats and tended to be more supportive of antitrust action.
Twitter was the least popular company, with only 13% of respondents having favorable feelings towards the social media giant, while Google was the most favored at 27%.
Of respondents who were at least somewhat convinced of breaking up tech companies, 58% listed Big Tech’s control over political speech and what people are able to see online as one of two reasons to support antitrust action, while 46% listed tech companies violating privacy by collecting and selling personal data.
The results match the recent trend of increased public support for regulating Big Tech. A Gallup poll in February found 57% of respondents were in favor of increased regulation of major tech companies, compared to 48% in 2019, while a Data for Progress poll from May found 58% of respondents favored antitrust action against the companies.
73% of respondents–including large majorities of both parties and across age/education lines–were convinced by an argument in favor of stronger regulation and antitrust action against tech monopolies.
— Erin Simpson (@esmpsn) July 29, 2021
“When it comes to Big Tech’s monopoly power and surveillance business model, the public is unified: They want action. They want to see the Big Tech companies broken up and users’ privacy protected,” Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, said in a statement announcing the poll.
The most popular regulations concerned tech companies infringing on user rights, consumer protections, and privacy. New rules ensuring internet companies don’t take advantage of consumers by “abusing their data, using deceptive and unfair practices, or violating their civil rights” were supported by 86% of respondents, while laws allowing people to sue over privacy violations drew 74% support, according to the poll.
“Policymakers should respond to this clear demand from voters by enacting laws and regulations that will improve choice, protect consumers, and reduce discrimination,” Erin Simpson, director of technology policy at CAP Action, said in a statement.
The results of the poll come amid a flurry of antitrust action against Big Tech from regulators, states and lawmakers. Members of the House Judiciary Committee advanced six bills in June targeting major tech companies’ anti-competitive practices, while a series of antitrust lawsuits against Google, Facebook and Apple have been filed in recent months.
The poll surveyed 1,200 registered voters online, with a margin of error of 3.7%.