New Polling on Internet Companies: Voters Support Stronger Regulations, Breaking Up Tech to Protect Consumers

WASHINGTON, D.C. — New data from a national survey of 1,200 registered voters conducted by the Center for American Progress Action Fund and Public Citizen show overwhelming support from voters of both parties to rein in the power and influence of big technology and social media companies, both by breaking up monopolies and imposing stronger regulations on all internet companies.

Voters expressed nearly universal support (98 percent) for government rules to ensure that internet companies, regardless of their size, aren’t able to take advantage of consumers by abusing their data, using deceptive and unfair practices, or violating their civil rights. Furthermore, an overwhelming 73 percent of voters were convinced by the statement that tech monopolies should be broken up to ensure fair market competition and reduce their power and that the government should strongly regulate these companies to better protect private information and ensure they do not abuse their power over the public conversation. These results indicate that the U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust bills, which put forth numerous ideas to rein in Big Tech’s power, enjoy broad, bipartisan support from Americans.

The primary reasons cited by voters for why they support breaking up technology companies and regulating them more include: “They have too much control over what people see online and interfere too much with free speech and political discussion,” and “They violate people’s privacy by collecting and selling personal information.” While support for breaking up technology companies and increasing regulation garnered support across the political spectrum, notably, an 82 percent majority of Republicans found this argument convincing, and nearly half (49 percent) found it very convincing—flying in the face of traditional ideas about conservatism.

“This new survey shows widespread support from voters across the political spectrum for stronger and better regulation of the tech companies that play an increasingly large role in our everyday lives,” said Erin Simpson, associate director of Technology Policy at CAP Action. “Policymakers should respond to this clear demand from voters by enacting laws and regulations that will improve choice, protect consumers, and reduce discrimination.”

“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,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “Big Tech will sling tens of millions of dollars, or more, to block anti-monopoly and pro-privacy legislation, but members of Congress who do the right thing should know the public will have their back. It’s the lawmakers who refuse to act who have something to fear.”

Additionally, 8 in 10 voters support making proactive rules to prevent harm from new technologies, such as artificial intelligence or virtual reality. Nearly three-quarters of respondents strongly agree with a proposal that ensures that people have the ability to sue a technology company if their privacy is breached, while more than 9 in 10 voters support a proposal to create stronger protections to prevent new technologies from discriminating against people based on personal characteristics such as race, gender, disability status, and religion.

The poll, conducted by CAP Action and Public Citizen in partnership with Change Research, was held June 7–12, 2021. The modeled margin of error for this survey is 3.7 percent. Click here to see the full results of the survey in a slide presentation, plus a memo outlining the major findings of this study.