al franken
Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., (right) says he will "fight every step of the way" if the administration tries to roll back net neutrality rules. He's pictured here with Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., in the Capitol, Jan. 17, 2017. Yuri Gripas/Reuters

U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., Tuesday put the administration on notice, saying he will “fight every step of the way” to preserve net neutrality, which requires internet service providers to enable access to all content and applications, regardless of source.

The statement came after President Donald Trump picked Ajit Pai to head the Federal Communications Commission. Pai has opposed net neutrality rules as well as requirements that service providers protect cunsumer privacy.

Pai’s “approach would be a disaster for millions of Americans, and if Pai and the Trump administration come after net neutrality, I will fight them every step of the way,” Franken said in a Facebook post.

“Net neutrality is the free speech issue of our time, and the internet should remain the free and open platform that it's always been. It is critical to our democracy and our economy that it continue to operate this way.”

Net neutrality rules were approved by the FCC in 2015 following an outpouring of public support for the idea of keeping the internet open. Service providers had been pushing to be allowed to decide which content providers would get priority, opening the way to charge for the ability to reach the public.

The rules currently in effect prevent broadband providers from blocking access to legal content, applications, services or nonharmful devices; prevent them from speeding up or slowing down traffic for particular websites, and prevent them from collecting payments to give content providers an advantage over competitors.

Rolling back the rules potentially could allow providers like Comcast to give their own content priority and forcing other providers like Vimeo to pay to get into the fast lane.

Democrats have vowed to fight the nomination of Pai, a former lawyer for Verizon who was a minority member of the FCC during the Obama administration. Since he already is a member of the FCC, he is not subject to confirmation hearings. He has promised to revisit the issue of net neutrality.

Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, the ranking member on the Senate Commerce subcommittee on technology, said he is hopeful Pai could find some middle ground.

“If he doesn’t, then both sides will dig in and we’ll fight accordingly, but my guidance to him would be to look for common ground, because the Democratic commissioners are reasonable people and usually we’re arguing about the how and not the what,” Schatz told the Hill Tuesday.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said he is concerned Pai will be more sympathetic to the interests of “Big Cable.”

“I will hold the FCC accountable to protect consumers and fight any attempt to roll back net neutrality," he said.