Nearly half of Americans (49%) believe that the federal government
should regulate the Internet the same way it does radio and television,
according to a new Rasmussen Reports national survey.
Thirty-five percent (35%) disagree, and 16% are undecided.
Americans also believe overwhelmingly -- 73% yes to 13% no -- that it should be a crime to harass someone on the Internet.
The findings come as a Missouri woman faces an
unprecedented federal prosecution for allegedly setting up an account
for a fictitious 16-year-old on an online social networking site to
harass the 13-year-old daughter of a neighbor. The girl, Megan Meier,
ultimately committed suicide after being viciously rejected by the
Lori Drew, the woman in question, pleaded not guilty on
Thursday to charges of conspiracy and accessing a protected computer to
obtain information. She allegedly created the MySpace account after her
daughter had a falling out with Meier.
Seventy-one percent (71%) have some awareness of the Drew
case, with only 25% saying they know nothing about it at all. Women
(79%) more than men
(67%) think Internet harassment should be a crime. Age is
also a factor, with support for criminalizing such behavior higher the
older the respondent.
Women also feel much more strongly about federal regulation
of the Internet, with 55% in favor, 25% opposed and 20% undecided. Men
reject federal regulation by a small margin