The Federal Communications Commission has they voted to restore net neutrality protections that were rolled back during the Trump administration. As expected, the vote crossed party lines, with the three Democratic commissioners in favor and the two Republicans on the panel voting against the measure.

With net neutrality rules in place, broadband service is considered an essential communications resource under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. This allows the FCC to regulate broadband Internet in a manner similar to water, power, and telephone services. This includes giving the agency oversight of broadband outages and security. Brendan Carr, one of the Republican commissioners, called the measure an “illegal power grab.”

Under net neutrality rules, ISPs must treat broadband usage the same. Users must be granted access to all content, websites and applications at the same speeds and conditions. ISPs can’t block or prioritize certain content — they’re not allowed to restrict access to specific sites or charge streaming services for faster service.

The FCC enacted net neutrality protections in 2015 during the Obama administration. But they were scrapped when President Donald Trump was in office. Back in 2021, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to roll back the Obama-era rules, but the FCC was unable to do so for quite some time. The commission was deadlocked with two Democratic votes and two Republican votes until Ana Gomez was sworn in as the panel’s third Democratic commissioner last September. The FCC then moved relatively quickly (at least in terms of the FCC’s pace) to restore net neutrality protections.

The issue may not be fully resolved. There may still be legal challenges from the telecommunications industry. The FCC’s vote in favor of net neutrality, however, is a victory for advocates of an open and fair internet.