Federal Communications Commission chief Tom Wheeler told CNBC on Tuesday that President Barack Obama didn't get him to vote for net neutrality.
Critics have said the Democratic chairman of the commission had not considered the regulation until Obama came out in favor of the regulations. They point to the fact that Wheeler pursued a lighter touch last year.
"I've always been for a strong and open Internet," Wheeler told CNBC's "Squawk Box." "Over the summer the original proposal we put out asked questions about Title II, but also proposed another approach. Over the summer I began to realize that that approach was not leading us to the right answer."
Obama gave a speech on Nov. 10 endorsing the rules to classify Internet service providers as utilities under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act.
Wheeler said he changed his approach after talking to consumers, innovators and venture capitalists and after considering what solution would be "commercially reasonable" for Internet service providers. That led him to develop ways to use Title II to address concerns over net neutrality, he said.
Net neutrality is the policy of treating all Internet traffic equally, rather than blocking or imposing "tolls" on access to faster service.
Enshrining net neutrality in FCC rules gives the agency the ability to regulate the providers like telephone line operators. Among other things, the FCC will be able to prevent providers from blocking legal websites, slowing down traffic to specific sites or allowing faster access to other services, such as Netflix or Amazon Instant Video.
The FCC voted 3-2 along party lines last week to apply Title II to cable and telecom companies that provide Internet service.