In a groundbreaking decision today, the Federal Communications Commission officially approved net neutrality, the policy that will ensure the future of the open Internet.
The policy will enact strict regulations on ISPs—the companies that connect people to the Internet—making it so they are unable to give preferential treatment to certain content providers. Without net neutrality, for example, Netflix or Hulu could pay Comcast to grant their users faster access.
"No one, whether government or corporate, should control free and open access to the Internet," FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said just before the vote. “This is no more a plan to regulate the Internet than the First Amendment is a plan to regulate free speech!"
The regulation reclassifies the Internet under Title II of the Communications Act, bringing it more in-line with traditional utilities like power and water. The vote was passed 3-2, along party lines, at today's FFC meeting. The new policy will ban blocking, throttling, and paid-prioritization fast lanes. The new open Internet rules will also be fully applicable to mobile.
The dissenting votes came from Republicans Michael O'Rielly and Ajut Pai, who both said that the FCC was overstepping its authority and interfering with an open free market by enacting such regulation.
"This is a victory for free speech, plain and simple," said the ACLU's legislative counsel Gabe Rottman, in response to the news. "Americans use the internet not just to work and play, but to discuss politics and learn about the world around them. The FCC has a critical role to play in protecting citizens' ability to see what they want and say what they want online, without interference."