Congress Needs to Modernize Laws to Address Digital Economy, Rising Cyber Security Risks, Americans Say in New Vrge / Internet Education Foundation Survey

54% of Americans Say “Pillars” that Support Economy Haven’t Adapted to Changes Brought on by Digital Platforms

Don’t Impose U.S. Views: 55% Said U.S. Should Not Intervene When Other Countries Impose Restrictions on Internet Access on Their Own Citizens

53% of Americans Say Existing Cyber Security Laws Aren’t Getting the Job Done

Washington, DC, Jan. 23, 2017 – As President Trump and the new Congress stake out a 2017 agenda, Americans want to see a pressing need to modernize our laws dealing with the digital economy and stepped up efforts to combat cyber crimes, according to a new survey released in conjunction with the State of the Net Conference sponsored by the Internet Education Foundation.

Fifty-four percent of Americans report that the pillars that support the economy – such as education, regulations and laws and corporate culture – haven’t been adapted enough to address the changes in the way Americans work. The survey also found that 56% believe that as the economy becomes more global, it’s important that the regulations and laws in the United States and other countries become more consistent.

Americans are also concerned about whether cyber criminals are gaining the upper hand. Only 1 in 20 Americans said that existing cyber security laws are enough to protect citizens and businesses. Fifty-four percent advocated for stronger cyber laws.

The survey was released in advance of the 2017 State of the Net Conference in Washington, a gathering of t business and policy leaders to discuss the 2017 federal and state policy agenda. “With a new President and new technologies challenging the status quo of economic laws and regulations, 2017 is shaping up as a critical policy year that will shape the future economy and issues of trade, privacy and security,” said Tim Lordan, Executive Director of the Internet Education Foundation. “The State of the Net Conference serves as a kick-off to this important discussion.”

  • Highlights from the survey, of over 700 Americans conducted by Vrge Analytics on Jan. 18-19, 2017, include:Americans are mixed on how to approach emerging companies, such as Uber and Airbnb that challenge existing laws and regulations. Forty-four percent said that existing laws should be adapted to fit the business models of these companies, while 36 percent said those companies should have to adapt. Among Millennials, only 1 in 4 think Uber and Airbnb should have to change.
  • On cyber security, Americans don’t believe we have found the right balance between protecting privacy and ensuring security, but they are split on how to strike that balance. Only 17 percent said the right balance exists. But 27 percent said it should be more skewed towards security, while 31 percent said it should be steered more towards privacy. Republicans favor steering more toward security; Democrats want it to lean more towards privacy.
  • An emerging issue is what efforts the U.S. government should play in checking countries that limit Internet access to their citizens. For example, Russia has blocked its citizens from access to Linkedin and China demanded that Apple remove the New York Times app from the Apps Store. In the survey, 55 percent said the United States should not intervene and that countries have the right to make decisions about Internet access.
  • Of Americans with an opinion, by a 4-1 margin they believe that the U.S. policymakers should advocate for reducing barriers to digital trade. But in a sign of how trade issues are in flux, 43 percent said they are not sure.

“Americans are looking for assurances that they will be protected, whether that’s in allowing them to work in new ways or from cyber threats,” said Tom Galvin, partner at Vrge Strategies. “Clearly they are looking for leaders to take a fresh look at laws and regulations to ensure they are in step with a modern economy and society.”

For more information about the survey, please go to

About the Internet Education Foundation For close to 20 years the Internet Education Foundation (IEF) has been building the most prominent platforms for engagement. IEF is a small 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization supported by public interest groups, corporations, and associations representative of the diversity of the Internet community. IEF does not take any positions on legislation and strives to provide a balanced platform for debate. For more information, please visit

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