US Poll: Internet video should be regulated

A poll finds that more than half of US residents want government regulation of online video content.

More than half of U.S. residents want the government to regulate Internet video in some way, according to a poll released this week.

Twenty-nine percent of those surveyed said Internet video should be regulated just like television content, and another 24 percent said the U.S. government should institute an online rating system similar to the one used by the movie industry, according to the poll, commissioned by 463 Communications, a public relations firm that specializes in high-tech issues.

Only 36 percent of respondents agreed that government regulation of Internet video would raise constitutional issues. "I was really shocked that people look at the Internet the same way they look at TV," said Tom Galvin, a partner at 463. "People see [online video] as spiraling out of control, and they want government to do something about it."

Galvin called that attitude "a bit scary."

Only 33 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds supported government regulations of video content, while 72 percent of those over 70 years of age did.

The question about government regulation was one of several 463 asked in their poll about Internet attitudes, conducted by Zogby International. The two companies work together on periodic polls asking "quirky" questions about technology and the Internet, Galvin said.

Only 11 percent of the survey respondents said they would want to have a device to access the Internet implanted in their brains. Perhaps not surprisingly, more men than women wanted that device.

However, nearly one in five of those responding would be fine with inserting a tracking chip into a child 13 or younger to help track them if they were lost, abducted, or "just tend not to be where they are supposed to be," 463 said. There was no difference in opinion among parents who had younger children and those who did not.

The poll also tackled religion, with few of the respondents saying they thought the Internet has had an effect on their relationship with God. Ten percent said it made them closer to God, while 6 percent said it made them more distant. Those numbers were about double for people who called themselves "born again."

Galvin was surprised those numbers were so low, with all of the information about religion online and all the potential temptations there as well. "It's kind of the vice and virtue part of it," he said.

Other poll results:

  • Twenty-four percent of U.S. residents said the Internet can serve as a substitute for a spouse or other significant relationship.
  • More than one in four respondents had a social-networking profile on sites such as MySpace or Facebook. And 78 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds had a social-networking profile.
  • Apple's new iPhone is pretty sexy -- 6 percent of respondents listed it as most sexy among a list of celebrities. But actors Halle Berry, Scarlett Johansson and Patrick Dempsey all beat the iPhone on the sexy scale. New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter tied the iPhone.
  • More than one in five respondents said they'd be willing to change their name and sell their old one to someone else for US$100,000.
The poll of more than 9,500 U.S. adults was done in early October.

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Grant Gross

IDG News Service
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