The FCC chairman received death threats before cancelling his CES appearance

  • Death threats reportedly prompted Ajit Pai, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, to cancel his planned appearance at CES, the giant tech industry trade show that gets underway next week.
  • Pai abruptly withdrew from the conference on Wednesday.
  • The FCC has been the target of much anger from the tech industry over its unpopular decision to end its net neutrality regulations.
  • This isn’t the first time FCC officials have received threats related to the move.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai abruptly cancelled his appearance at next week’s CES trade show due to death threats, Recode reports, citing two unnamed sources at the agency.

The sources didn’t make public details about the threats, but they told Recode that “federal law enforcement had intervened in the matter.”

The FCC declined to comment.

Pai suddenly cancelled his appearance at the major tech industry conference CES on Wednesday. Neither he, the FCC, nor the Consumer Technology Association, which organizes the trade show, offered an explanation for his withdrawal. That led to much speculation he was attempting to avoid a hostile reception.

Pai earned the ire of many folks in the tech industry when he pushed through an unpopular repeal of the FCC’s net neutrality rules last month. Those regulations generally barred internet service providers from blocking, slowing, or providing preferential access to particular online sites, services, and apps.

The current or incoming chairman of the FCC has attended every CES since at least 2009, and Pai has attended the last five shows. At this year’s event, he was scheduled to be interviewed by CTA President Gary Shapiro about topics including the nation’s broadband policy, connectivity, and spectrum issues. Additionally, he almost certainly would have faced questions about the decision to repeal the net neutrality rules.

This isn’t the first time FCC officials have received threats related to the move. During the meeting in which the commission voted to repeal the net neutrality rules, shortly before the vote took place, the agency received a bomb threat. The agency’s meeting room was briefly evacuated and searched. When no bomb was found the meeting continued, and the commissioners went ahead with their planned vote on the repeal.

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