More than 170 groups — including the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Library Association, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Greenpeace USA, and the Writers Guild of America — signed a letter to FCC chairman Ajit Pai and Senators John Thune, R-SD, and Bill Nelson, D-FL, on Wednesday asking the FCC to protect net neutrality rules put in place by the Obama administration in 2015.
"[We] urge you and your colleagues to oppose legislation and regulatory actions that would threaten net neutrality and roll back the important protections put in place by the FCC in 2015 and to continue to enforce the Open Internet Order as it stands," the letter states.
The opposition comes just after Pai, who has been a vocal opponent of net neutrality, was nominated by President Donald Trump for another five-year term at the FCC on Wednesday.
The Senate Commerce Committee’s first oversight hearing of the FCC is scheduled for Thursday. Thune is chairman of the committee, and Nelson is ranking member, which explains why the letter included their names in addition to Pai.
Last week, Pai called net neutrality a "mistake" and reiterated his plans to reduce FCC regulation. Pai said net neutrality "injected tremendous uncertainty into the broadband market. And uncertainty is the enemy of growth."
Net neutrality rules prevent internet access providers from slowing access to web content and also benefits cloud service providers and other organizations transferring large quantities of data. But Mignon Clyburn, the FCC’s only Democrat, argues that net neutrality rules also help protect consumers.
The battle over net neutrality could get fiery in the coming weeks. Though the Trump administration and Pai are huge opponents of policy, net neutrality rules have broad support across industries. A Spiceworks survey released in January found more than eight in 10 IT pros in the U.S. are in favor of keeping current net neutrality regulations in place.