The repeal of net neutrality by the FCC has been controversial, to say the least. Chairman Ajit Pai has come under fire for the decision but, despite the furor, he was still supposed to make an appearance at CES 2018 in Las Vegas next week to talk about agency policymaking. Unfortunately, he abruptly canceled yesterday without giving a reason.
However, according to sources talking to Recode, Pai had received death threats, and federal law enforcement had been brought in on the matter. The FCC would not confirm or deny the report, only telling the site that “We do not comment on security measures or concerns.”
His stance against net neutrality has made Pai an online target for abuse on Twitter and elsewhere. The abuse even has gone so far as to threaten his family, he has said. Even during the hearing on December 14, while Pai was making his comments in favor of the net neutrality appeal, the panel was quickly ushered off over "security concerns." A bomb threat was not ruled out.
Pai had planned to have a "candid conversation" at CES about how the FCC sets policy, likely including the net neutrality ruling and possible legal challenges. He was to be joined by Federal Trade Commission Acting Chairwoman Maureen Ohlhausen in talking with Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, which runs CES. Now only the latter two will hold the discussion.
Shapiro told Digital Trends that Pai did not give him a reason for the cancellation at the time, but added, "He and his family have been subject to vicious and direct attacks and threats and any decision he makes regarding his own travel is fine with me."
FCC commissioners Mignon Clyburn, Michael O’Rielly, and Brendan Carr still plan on attending CES.
The FCC has been prominent at past CES events. In 2015, then-Chairman Tom Wheeler announced his plans for the Title II implementation of net neutrality. He returned to 2016 to chat with Shapiro about the topic and how the FCC planned to defend lawsuits over the decision.
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