(WASHINGTON) -- A narrowly divided Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved bold new rules Tuesday aimed at preventing broadband service providers from censoring how individuals and organizations can surf the Internet's fastest pipes.
The so-called "net neutrality" regulations prohibit the suppliers of Internet connections to millions of American homes and offices from blocking access to certain websites, applications or services so long as they are legal.
Companies will also be required to publicly disclose information on their practices, performance characteristics and commercial ties.
But the rules do allow Internet providers to engage in "reasonable network management," meaning they can take steps to regulate traffic and congestion over their connections.
Critics warn those steps could include implementation of usage-based pricing for accessing the Internet at home and preferential treatment for companies that pay extra for "fast-lanes." They say service providers could also begin to pick and choose which websites can run faster than others over their networks.
Opponents of the FCC's new authority also cite that back in April, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Washington D.C. ruled that the agency lacked the authority to require broadband providers to give equal treatment to all Internet traffic on their networks.
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