WASHINGTON -- The Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday approved a plan to regulate the Internet despite warnings that it could strangle industry investment and damage an economy that is still struggling to recover.
The 3-2 vote fell along partisan lines with Democrats capitalizing on their numerical advantage.
But the move raises concern that the FCC could soon have its regulatory foot in the door of the wild wild West of the Internet -- with an eye toward eventually exerting tighter control over content at a time when sites like WikiLeaks openly snub the government.
Republicans warn that the new rules would impose unnecessary regulations on an industry that is one of the few bright spots in the current economy, with phone and cable companies spending billions to upgrade their networks for broadband.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told President Obama on Tuesday to leave the Internet alone, arguing that his administration has already nationalized health care, banks and student loans.
"That's why I and GOP senators have urged the FCC chairman to back off," he said on the Senate floor.