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Wary of government – Americans prefer business control of Internet

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People are less supportive of government control of the Internet than they used to be, according to focus groups conducted by the Markle Foundation, the New York Times reported June 12.

Stanley Greenberg, who is leading the research, said the shift was striking. In a study he did two years ago for the Direct Marketing Association, he said, more people wanted government restrictions on things like pornography online.

“People didn’t understand the Internet as well,” he told the Times. “Now they understand more about the difficulty of regulation.”

Participants trusted business more than government with regulation. Few respondents knew about consumer-protection programs or about a new international body that administers the Internet’s system of site names.

The results from the ten two-hour sessions were intended to help researchers narrow their focus for later in-depth surveys. The final report, due in September, is intended both to spark a public discussion and to help lawmakers and Internet companies set policy.

The research is being conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Research Inc., a Washington public policy research firm. Participants included Internet users and nonusers between 18 and 75.

For full text, go to the New York Times.

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