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After net neutrality vote, FCC Chair Ajit Pai cancels public appearance due to death threats

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has cancelled an appearance at next week's 2018 International CES due to death threats, according to a CNBC report. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has canceled an appearance at an upcoming trade show due to death threats, according to CNBC.

What happened?

Pai was scheduled to speak at the 2018 International CES — formerly the Consumer Electronics Show — which is scheduled Tuesday through Jan. 12 in Las Vegas. The conference boasts that more than 184,000 people attended the 2017 International CES, with a similar attendance expected this year.

However, Pai unexpectedly canceled his appearance at this year's show. Two FCC sources told CNBC that the cancellation was due to death threats that had been made against the commissioner.

An official FCC spokesman declined to comment on the specific nature of the threats, telling CNBC, "We do not comment on security measures or concerns."

A spokesman for the Consumer Technology Association, which puts on the show, also declined to comment, other than to say that Pai had recently been the subject of "vicious and direct attacks and threats"

What is the reason for the threats?

While the FCC has refused to confirm the nature of the threats, it is clear that Pai's personal safety has been jeopardized after the FCC voted to undo a series of Obama-era regulations collectively known as "net neutrality."

Since he announced that he would schedule a vote on net neutrality repeal, Pai has been the target of seething anger from net neutrality proponents who claim that without the Obama-era regulations, internet service providers will raise prices, block popular streaming sites like Netflix, and otherwise destroy the internet.

Net neutrality opponents, meanwhile, argue that net neutrality has stifled investment in internet infrastructure, hurt internet content developers, and made the internet more expensive for the vast majority of users who are not heavy video streamers.

The conflict over net neutrality has already turned violent. The actual vote on the repeal of net neutrality was temporarily delayed due to an anonymous bomb threat. Then, the FCC voted 3-2 on Dec. 14 to repeal net neutrality.

Pai has publicly lamented that since the debate over net neutrality repeal began, he and his family have been continually subjected to threats and racist taunts, both public and private.

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