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CES 2018: FCC Chair Ajit Pai Cancels Appearance Over Death Threats

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Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai will not be in this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas as announced by the Consumer Technology Association just less than a week before the event.

While organizers were silent on the reasons for his abrupt cancellation, recent reports said it is due to a safety issue stemming from the agency's net neutrality repeal.

According to Recode, two sources confirmed that Pai's cancellation was prompted by death threats that have arisen from his role in undoing net neutrality protections put in place during the Obama administration. Specifics of the death threats have not been revealed, but federal law enforcement agencies have intervened and other FCC officers are expected to be briefed on it. 

Although security had been tightened at CES in the past due to terrorist threats, it is challenging to account for more than 200,000 attendees that flock the yearly tech event.

This is the first time in five years for the FCC chair to not attend the show. He is supposed to participate in a conversation with Maureen Ohlhausen, acting chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, at the popular tech show this year. He would more than likely have to answer questions about the agency's decision to repeal, as well as the lawsuits coming to the FCC from different state attorneys.

The FCC's Dec. 14 vote to repeal net neutrality has essentially made Pai a target of activists. In Fall 2017, as internet users waited for the agency to vote on the issue, Pai criticized protesters for harassing him at his suburban Washington home. Activists would carry signs with his children's name listed on them and they would send a constant stream of pizza deliveries to his house, an act which he said was "crossing the line."

Net Neutrality Repeal

Many found FCC's vote for repeal of net neutrality to be the wrong move. Silicon Valley lobbyists and advocates for net neutrality have threatened to sue the FCC for the decision. 

Net neutrality was a way for the internet to stay a free market, but by repealing the act it deregulates the broadband indusry and eliminates rules that have prohibited internet providers from blocking certain traffic. 

With net neutrality, internet service providers shall treat all data on the internet the same. This meant providers would not be able to block or slow down or even charge more money for specific content or websites. 

Now, with net neutrality repealed, these providers can discriminate or charge by user, content, platform, application, or method of communication.

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