In a historic move, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has voted in favor of reclassifying the Internet as a public utility under Title II, essentially barring Internet Service Providers from creating "Internet fast lanes."
The proposal was pitched by FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, and has been praised by the general public and many tech companies alike.
"The Internet is too important to allow broadband providers to make the rules," said Wheeler, receiving applause from the crowd gathered before the FCC panel. "So today after a decade of debate in an open, robust year-long process, we finally have legally sustainable rules to ensure that the Internet stays fast, fair and open."
The new rules subject Internet service providers to rules and regulations that essentially ensure that all customers get fair access to services. ISPs would be banned from making paid prioritization deals with Internet companies. It's important to note that there are some exceptions to this, such as prioritization for public services such as remote heart monitoring.
The FCC said that it would post the regulations online as soon as possible, after which they will be published in the Federal Register.
In recent times many have come out in support of the issue, including many who did not immediately support Title II reclassification such as President Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton.
While Republicans who are opposed to the bill recently said that they would not take legal action against the FCC, since it would be almost impossible to get through Congress without Democratic support, Internet service providers such as Verizon and AT&T are expected to sue the FCC later this year in an effort to have the rules thrown out.
The rules will directly have an impact on every business and individual in the country in some way or another, largely because of the fact that ISPs cannot slow or hamper access from any website.
ISPs, however, argue that reclassifying the Internet will hamper innovation, saying that it will stop ISPs from introducing new services and features, such as connected refrigerators and smartphone controlled lights.
"What doesn't make sense, and has never made sense, is to take a regulatory framework developed for Ma Bell in the 1930s and make her great grandchildren, with technologies and options undreamed of 80 years ago, live under it," said James Cicconi, senior executive vice president at AT&T.
Despite these claims, Internet users in general will benefit from the new rules. The commission, which has five members, voted 3 to 2, with the two Republicans on the commission voting against the rules and the three Democrats voting for them.
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