The FCC on Tuesday voted 3-2 along party lines to reverse its previous decision to allow broadband providers like Comcast to throttle data speeds for sites that do not offer a service to consumers.
The vote followed a contentious fight between the FCC and internet providers that had pitted a group of net neutrality activists against consumer groups, ISPs, and the Federal Communications Commission.
The FCC had previously said that the agency would not impose any net neutrality restrictions.
But its move came after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the FCC had failed to prove that its rules violated net neutrality principles.
On Tuesday, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai told lawmakers in a closed-door meeting that the commission’s move to undo its previous net neutrality order was an “overreach” of its authority.
Pai said that he would not undo the rules, saying that the court’s decision “was not an overreach.”
The move was hailed by the internet and telecom industry, and net neutrality supporters as a way to rein in the FCC, which has long been considered the agency to reinstate net neutrality.
In a statement, a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union said the FCC should not be the regulator of the internet.
“The FCC is a political agency and the public has no confidence in its ability to enforce net neutrality,” said Jessica Rich, the director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project.
The American public has been concerned about the FCC using its power to regulate internet access.
The agency has not yet said how it plans to address the legal challenge that led to the FCC overturning its previous ruling, or whether it plans on going through with a re-vote.
The Internet Association, a trade group representing the largest companies in the industry, called the FCC action “a major victory for consumers.”
“The American people overwhelmingly reject a proposal that would gut net neutrality protections and threaten innovation and free speech on the internet,” the group said in a statement.
“As we look ahead to the final rulemaking process, we urge the FCC to keep our promise to consumers and avoid any further delays.”
The FCC has previously faced criticism for its heavy-handed approach to regulating the internet, with some calling the agency’s rules anti-competitive and an assault on free speech.
FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel had been scheduled to testify before a House subcommittee Tuesday, but was replaced by Republican Commissioner Ajit Volcker.