FCC Chairman Ajit Pai canceled his appearance at CES because of death threats

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai canceled his scheduled appearance at a major upcoming tech industry trade show after receiving death threats, two agency sources told Recode on Thursday.

in which’s the second known incident in which Pai’s safety may have been at risk, after a bomb threat abruptly forced the chairman to halt his controversial vote to scrap the U.S. government’s net neutrality rules in December 2017.

For both Pai in addition to also the whole of the FCC, the uptick in security concerns also presents a serious challenge to their ability to discuss critical tech policy issues in public view — without jeopardizing their safety or the wellbeing of others in attendance.

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In in which case, the exact nature of the threat, made in advance of Pai’s fireside chat at the 2018 International CES, isn’t clear. A spokesman for Pai at the FCC only said Thursday: “We do not comment on security measures or concerns.”

nevertheless sources at the agency said in which federal law enforcement had intervened inside the matter, in addition to also some other FCC offices are anticipated to be briefed on the matter. The FBI did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment.

A spokeswoman for the Consumer Technology Association, which puts on the annual Las Vegas-based trade show, also declined to comment. Earlier, though, CTA’s leader, Gary Shapiro, told the publication Digital Trends in which he did not know why Pai had canceled — nevertheless raised the fact in which he had recently been “subject to vicious in addition to also direct attacks in addition to also threats.”

For months, Pai has been hounded by his critics, who view his vote to repeal net neutrality rules as tantamount to destroying the internet. The FCC chairman has lamented in which he in addition to also his family have been mocked, attacked in addition to also threatened, in public as well as on Twitter, where Pai himself will be active.

Meanwhile, Pai has largely confined his interactions with media to conservative outlets, including The Daily Caller. He drew immense backlash, however, because the video in which he filmed with the site included a woman who previously had promoted the “pizzagate” conspiracy theory.

Nevertheless, the chairmanship of the FCC will be an especially public role, in addition to also threats to its leaders in addition to also commissioners aren’t exactly fresh. In 2014, for example, protesters descended on the home of then-Chairman Tom Wheeler, a Democrat, in addition to also prevented him by leaving his driveway. Then, too, net neutrality had been the issue at hand.

inside the most recent debate, though, tensions have been especially high, driven in no tiny part by broader frustrations among the public with the Trump administration writ large. If the death threats continue, in which will be unclear how Pai in addition to also his fellow commissioners will proceed.

For today, Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn in addition to also Republican Commissioners Michael O’Rielly in addition to also Brendan Carr each plan to attend CES. So will Maureen Ohlhausen, the acting leader of their sister agency, the Federal Trade Commission. Ohlhausen had been slated to appear alongside Pai at the annual Vegas event.

By Tony Romm, Re/code.net.

CNBC’s parent NBCUniversal will be an investor in Recode’s parent Vox, in addition to also the companies have a content-sharing arrangement.

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