FCC chairman Ajit Pai pulls out of CES 2018

We may not know exactly what to expect at CES 2018, but anyone hoping to see Ajit Pai dragged over the coals for overseeing the repeal of net neutrality will be sorely disappointed. The chairman of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has pulled out a week ahead of a planned appearance with no explanation provided.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai pulls out of CES 2018

Pai was due to appear on Tuesday, alongside the Federal Trade Commission’s acting chair Maureen Ohlhausen, for a “candid conversation” with president of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) Gary Shapiro. Quite how candid that would have been, given Shapiro supported the repeal of net neutrality, is now something of a moot point. He’s not coming, so limited scrutiny will be replaced by no scrutiny at all.

“Unfortunately, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is unable to attend CES 2018,” the CTA wrote in a brief email. “We look forward to our next opportunity to host a technology policy discussion with him before a public audience.”

READ NEXT: What is net neutrality?

Given the FCC has not offered its own comment on Pai’s cancellation, that’s all we have to go on. It could be down to personal matters or a scheduling issue – but it could also in part be influenced by the fact that the repeal of net neutrality hasn’t exactly made him popular among the kind of people that attend CES. Indeed, in the days running up to net neutrality’s repeal, the front page of Reddit was swamped with a concentrated campaign to raise awareness of the issue:

Whether the backlash had a direct impact on Pai’s decision not to show is impossible to say, but one thing is for sure. Not only will he not be having that “candid conversation” at CES, but he won’t be doing a live performance of his cringeworthy video that caused Mark Hamill and Ted Cruz to argue over whether Darth Vader would back data throttling. Shame.

Image: US Department of Agriculture

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