Users don't think search engines need government regulation

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Most Americans believe that search engines are doing a fine job of ranking search answers, and don't believe they need government regulation.

A year ago, the European Union opened an anti-trust inquiry into whether Google unfairly prioritizes its own results in searches - an allegation which Google was quick to deny.

And it seems users are convinced. In a telephone survey carried out by Rasmussen Reports, 77 percent of adults say there is no need for government legislation. Just 11 percent are in favor, with 12 percent unsure.

The most frequent internet users are the least likely to think regulation is needed for search engine recommendations. Older people were more likely to be undecided. Government workers were nearly three times as likely to see a need for regulation than those working in the private sector.

While some website owners have complained that search engines favor some sites over others when returning recommendations, the survey found that only 21 percent of voters think the Federal Communications Commission should regulate the internet as it does radio and television.

Most people worry that regulation would be used to push a political agenda.

Interestingly, despite frequently-heard complaints about inappropriate internet content, married Americans and those who have children living with them are more strongly opposed to regulation than unmarrieds and those without resident children.

Most adults say the biggest problem when using search engines is that their query generates too much irrelevant data, while 13 percent say they can’t find what they need.