The Federal Communications Commission Tuesday in Washington D.C. passed new rules that govern how providers treat web traffic.
"Today, for the first time, we are adopting rules to preserve basic Internet values," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said at Tuesday's hearing. "These rules will increase certainty in the marketplace; spur investment both at the edge and in the core of our broadband networks, and contribute to a 21st century job-creation engine in the United States."
"Given the importance of an open Internet to our economic future…it is essential that the FCC fulfill its historic role as a cop on the beat to ensure the vitality of our communications networks and to empower and protect consumers of those networks," he added.
The order prevents cable providers from limiting broadband access to rival content and video and gives the FCC the power to issue fines and injunctions against organizations that don't abide by the new regulation.
"The era of legal Internet arbitrage has dawned," Commissioner Robert McDowell said.
The rules could face court opposition from both politcal parties.
"The draft Order would have the effect of actually relaxing restrictions on this kind of discrimination," Senator Al Franken wrote Monday night. "What's more, even the protections that are established in the draft Order would be weak because it defines 'broadband Internet access service' too narrowly, making it easy for powerful corporations to get around the rules."
The Writers Guild of America said in a statement: "Our members write most of what people watch on television and in the movie theaters and increasingly, online. Today's FCC vote will diminish our members' ability to create and distribute innovative content and audiences' ability to watch the content of their choice."
Bob Pisano, president and interim CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc., added in a statement: "The Motion Picture Association of America commends Chairman Genachowski and the Commission for recognizing that intellectual property enforcement helps protect jobs and strengthen this nation's economy. Combating IP theft is especially critical in an online world. Consistent with statements by the Obama Administration and recent law enforcement initiatives, the Commission understands that stemming the rising tide of online theft requires active participation by Internet service providers. Notably, Internet service providers may take reasonable measures to address copyright infringement without running afoul of open Internet rules. Under no circumstances should open Internet rules be used to shield copyright infringers."