The Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday approved a plan to regulate the Internet despite warnings that it could strangle industry investment and damage an economy that is still struggling to recover.
The 3-2 vote fell along partisan lines with Democrats capitalizing on their numerical advantage.
The rules would prohibit phone and cable companies from abusing their control over broadband connections to discriminate against rival content or services, such as Internet phone calls or online video, or play favorites with Web traffic.
Lawmakers in both parties have been arguing for months that Congress, not the Obama administration, should take the lead role in deciding whether and how much to police the web. But despite a brief backing-off earlier in the year, the FCC has pushed ahead with its new regulatory plan.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski secured the three votes needed for approval, despite firm opposition from the two Republicans on the five-member commission.