All three Democrats on the commission voted in favor of the regulations, over opposition from the two Republican commissioners.
The new rules reclassify Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as Title II utilities, giving the FCC expansive regulatory authority over them.
“Today is a red-letter day for Internet freedom, for consumers who want to use the Internet on their terms, for innovators who want to reach consumers without the control of gatekeepers,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said Thursday after the vote.
But opponents of the federal takeover of the Internet vowed to challenge the ruling in court.
“Long after they turn to dust their sins will live on and on...,” a livid Matt Drudge tweeted. “May the Democrats burn in hell for opening the doors to endless Internet regulation. I mean really burn.”
The FCC approved 317 pages of regulations, down from the original 332 in the proposed draft. Republicans in Congress derided the rule changes as a secretive power grab initiated at the behest of President Obama.
“The closer we get to the FCC rubber-stamping President Obama's Internet grab, the more disturbing it becomes,” said Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) the day before the vote. “Consumers, innovators and job creators all stand to lose from this misguided approach.”
Walden, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, could push legislation that limits the extent of the FCC’s power grab by ratifying certain elements of net neutrality, but preventing its classification as a utility.