FCC Chair Cancels Appearance At Consumer Electronics Show

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, who spearheaded the agency's recent repeal of the net neutrality rules, has abruptly canceled a scheduled appearance at next week's Consumer Electronics Show.

Pai has not yet publicly given a reason for his decision, but some press reports attribute his decision to security considerations. Since unveiling a plan to repeal the 2015 net neutrality rules, Pai has received death threats, and been the target of harassment campaigns. Last month, when the FCC voted to scrap the open Internet rules, the meeting was briefly interrupted by a bomb threat.

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An FCC spokesman refused to comment on why Pai decided not to attend the conference. He had been scheduled to appear on a panel with Federal Trade Commission Acting Chair Maureen Ohlhausen; she apparently still intends to attend.

The FCC last month voted 3-2 to repeal rules that prohibited Internet service providers from blocking or throttling traffic and from charging higher fees for prioritized delivery. That move was hugely unpopular with many web companies and consumer advocates -- some of which have already vowed to sue the agency.

The FCC also voted to prohibit states from passing or enforcing their own version of net neutrality rules. Despite the move, lawmakers in New York and other states are forging ahead with plans to craft open Internet rules. In New York, Democratic Assembly member Patricia Fahy proposed a bill that would effectively require Internet service providers to follow some key net neutrality rules as a condition of obtaining city or state contracts.

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) also said he will introduce a "resolution of disapproval" to revoke last week's FCC decision. So far, 28 co-sponsors have signed on to Markey's resolution.

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