"This is no more a plan to regulate the Internet than the First Amendment is a plan to regulate free speech," he said. "They both stand for the same concept."
The FCC's vote comes after a year of debate over net neutrality rules, with about 4 million public comments filed in the proceeding, with many of the comments calling on the agency to pass strong rules grounded in the telecom regulations in Title II of the Telecommunications Act. In early 2014, a U.S. appeals court overturned net neutrality rules the agency passed in 2010, saying the FCC pegged the rules to the wrong section of the Telecommunications Act.
In May, Wheeler proposed new rules that would have allowed broadband providers to engage in "commercially reasonable" traffic management, with no reclassification of broadband under Title II. But huge numbers of people filing comments with the agency called for reclassification, and Obama joined their ranks in November.
Dozens of digital rights and consumer groups applauded the FCC's decision. The vote "preserves the ethos of permissionless innovation that's always been at the heart of the Internet," Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, said in a video shown during the FCC meeting.
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