Top Issues For IT Pros: The War, Terrorism, Internet Regulation, Privacy

Most of the IT workers polled support free trade, a hands-off approach to the Internet, individual responsibility for privacy, and stronger intellectual property protections.

K.C. Jones, Contributor

December 18, 2007

3 Min Read

The war in Iraq and preventing new laws governing the Internet and online privacy rank top among political concerns of IT professionals.

The Computing Technology Industry Association polled American IT workers on their political priorities and released the results Tuesday in a report called: "IT Workers and the 2008 Elections." The poll, backed by a grant from DeVry University, canvassed 600 IT professionals during the last two weeks of August and the first two weeks of September.

The report (PDF), from Rasmussen Reports and CompTIA's public policy team found that 39% of IT workers are politically independent, 35% are Republican, and 26% are Democrats.

When asked to name the top issues facing the next president, 29% said the war in Iraq, 23% said terrorism, 19% said the economy, 7% said health care, and 6% said the environment.

In terms of IT policy, most of the workers polled support free trade, a hands-off approach to the Internet, individual responsibility for privacy, stronger intellectual property protections, and increased tax write-offs for training.

Forty-eight percent of respondents said that free trade helps the economy, while 37% said it hurts the economy. Younger workers were less likely to support free trade (28% for those ages 18 to 29) than their older counterparts (54% among those ages 30-39).

Eighty-two percent said the government should not regulate the Internet the way it regulates telecommunications and television; 12% percent said it should. CompTIA found that older IT workers, Democrats ,and women were more likely to support Internet regulation, but none of those groups have a majority supporting Internet regulation.

Sixty percent of those polled said that individuals should be primarily responsible for protecting their own privacy online, while 19% said that companies providing Internet services should do so. Twelve percent said the government should protect Internet privacy.

Thirty-nine percent said the government should do more to protect IP, while 25% said the government should do less and the same percentage said current protections are enough. The survey found that 76% of IT workers with only a high school diploma said the government should do more, while only 34% who graduated from college said the government should do more. Forty-nine percent said the government should offer tax credits for IT worker training or certification, while 44% said the government should not provide these credits. Seventy-four percent of IT workers who earn $20,000 to $40,000 annually support the tax credits, while 40% of those who earned over $100,000 annually support them.

"The use of IT has driven America's prosperity and productivity growth for more than a decade," Roger Cochetti, group director of U.S. Public Policy for CompTIA, said in a statement. "Consequently, the American IT worker has emerged as a unique and integral class of U.S. laborer. Politicians see their importance to our world leadership, as well as the overall well-being of the nation. They also see a potent political force that has, until now, largely remained un-tapped. This study reveals an important shift has occurred in the political landscape. From here on in, we trust those seeking elected office will aggressively compete for IT workers' votes much in the same way as any fundamental voting group. America depends too greatly on the fruits of IT workers for politicians to do otherwise."

CompTIA said the survey's margin of error is about 4%, with a 95% level of confidence. The poll showed that 77% of IT workers are men, 90% were born in the United States or Canada, 63% don't consider their employers "IT companies," and 54% earn more than $75,000 a year.

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