The strongest net neutrality rules that the United States has ever seen were approved by the FCC in a highly-anticipated vote earlier today. This vote comes after months of fighting between Silicon Valley tech giants and the telecom behemoths that control the nation’s Internet, not to mention the legions of American citizens that have made it abundantly clear that they support net neutrality.
The Federal Communications Commission today voted to enforce net neutrality rules that prevent Internet providers—including cellular carriers—from blocking or throttling traffic or giving priority to Web services in exchange for payment. The most controversial part of the FCC’s decision reclassifies fixed and mobile broadband as a telecommunications service, with providers to be regulated as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act. This brings Internet service under the same type of regulatory regime faced by wireline telephone service and mobile voice, though the FCC is forbearing from stricter utility-style rules that it could also apply under Title II. The decision comes after a year of intense public interest, with the FCC receiving four million public comments from companies, trade associations, advocacy groups, and individuals. President Obama weighed in too, asking the FCC to adopt the rules using Title II as the legal underpinning. The vote was 3-2, with Democrats voting in favor and Republicans against.