The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to approve proposed new rules aimed at blocking Internet service providers, like Comcast, and wireless phone companies such as Verizon and AT&T, from intentionally halting or slowing Web traffic.
The proposal, or so-called net neutrality regulations, will set off a series of regulatory procedures and a final rule is expected to be introduced early next year.
Supporters say the regulations prevents any company from steering viewers to its own outlets and manipulating choice by consumers to watch or read what they choose.
But critics charge that the plan is another power grab by the government.
"These new rules should rightly be viewed by consumers suspiciously as another government power grab over a private service provided by private companies in a competitive marketplace," Sen. John McCain wrote in an opinion article published by The Washington Times.
"Does this sound familiar? It should," McCain said, comparing the proposal to the federal bailout of Wall Street and the auto industry.
McCain argued that a government takeover of the Internet will "stifle innovation" and "hinder job creation," noting that the technology industry is the fastest-growing job market behind health care.
"Regulation kills innovation," he said. "Let's not kill the Internet. An open and unfettered Internet may be the real stimulus during these difficult economic times, and it comes without a $787 billion price tag that is passed along to taxpayers at a significant cost for future generations."
The proposal contains six principles, including four existing guidelines adopted in 2005 on Internet network operations. The additional rules are designed to prevent Internet traffic discrimination and increase transparency on how carriers manage their networks to ensure that they aren't targeting technologies that may compete with their own services.
Verizon and Google have endorsed the plan, saying they need open access to all Internet users, while AT&T has opposed it, saying the status quo should be maintained.
The FCC will take comments on how to apply the rules until Jan. 14 with replies due March 5, an FCC spokesman told Foxnews.com.