The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to implement new net neutrality rules designed to make sure Internet service providers treat all legal content equally.
The historic vote on the proposal by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler elicited hearty cheers from a wide array of technology companies and consumer groups while setting the table for further legal challenges from Internet service providers. The controversial proceedings that led up to the vote generated heated lobbying in Washington and public clamor on social media, all in efforts to steer the future direction of the rules that guide Internet traffic.
"No one ... should control free and open access to the Internet," Wheeler said to applause from the standing room-only crowd gathered before the FCC panel. "It's the most powerful and pervasive platform on the planet. The Internet is too important to allow broadband providers to make the rules."
Net neutrality, also called open Internet, is a principle that Internet networks are equally available to all types of legal content generators. Internet service providers (ISPs), mostly large cable or telephone companies, would be prohibited from discriminating against content by slowing transmission speeds or seeking payments in exchange for faster lanes of their Internet networks, a practice called "paid prioritization."