WASHINGTON — The US Senate rejected a resolution on Thursday seeking to overturn "net neutrality" rules aimed at ensuring an open Internet.

The Republican-backed resolution, which the White House had threatened to veto, was defeated by 52 votes to 46 in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives approved a similar resolution in April that seeks to block the rules approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The five-member, Democratic-controlled FCC, in a vote split on party lines, agreed in December to the rules aimed at safeguarding "network neutrality" -- the principle that lawful Web traffic should be treated equally.

The White House warned Tuesday that President Barack Obama would use his veto power if the Senate passed the resolution scrapping the rules.

Obama welcomed the Senate vote in a message on his Twitter feed @whitehouse.

"The open Internet is essential for American jobs & society. Glad to see the Senate reaffirm balanced #netneutrality rules," the president tweeted.

Senator John Kerry, the Democrat from Massachusetts who chairs the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet, praised the vote as "a victory for innovation, consumers, and common sense."

"Today, the Senate refused to hand over the Internet to a small group of corporate interests," the former Democratic presidential candidate said in a statement.

"We need to keep up the fight because we know this isn't the last we've heard of the assault on net neutrality," Kerry said.

The rules are a balancing act by the FCC between support for consumers and the cable and telephone companies that are the main Internet service providers in the United States.

The rules would prevent fixed broadband providers from blocking lawful content, applications or services or providing their own video content at a faster speed, for example, than that of a rival.

The issue has taken on greater urgency with the emergence of streaming video from companies such as Netflix, which uses large amounts of bandwidth.

Cable and Internet firms could in theory downgrade the quality of those feeds and favor their own content, say backers of net neutrality.

Wireless providers may not block access to lawful websites or applications that compete directly with their own voice or video telephony services but they could potentially block other applications or services.

Fixed broadband providers can also charge consumers according to usage, a metered pricing practice already used by some wireless carriers.

Opponents of the FCC rules have decried them as unnecessary government intervention.