FCC Chairman Ajit Pai won’t be taking a victory lap over pulling back net neutrality rules at the Consumer Electronics Show next week in Las Vegas, after all. Pai will not be attending the conference, according to a statement from Consumer Technology Association head Gary Shapiro on Wednesday.
“Unfortunately, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is unable to attend CES 2018,” said Shapiro. “We look forward to our next opportunity to host a technology policy discussion with him before a public audience.”
Shapiro didn’t say why his appearance had been cancelled. CTA did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
Pai was slated for a “candid conversation” with FTC acting chairwoman Maureen Ohlhausen, moderated by Shapiro. The panel was still being touted in CES emails as late as 5:20 pm ET on Wednesday. Pai had hit the conference five years running heading into 2018, which was going to be his first CES since being appointed chairman last year.
The former Verizon lawyer has been under the microscope since spearheading the repeal of Obama-era net neutrality rules in December. The FCC’s decision, which one media expert dubbed a “big mistake” to TheWrap, allows internet giants to block or “throttle” access to certain sites — and create paid “fast lanes” — as long as they disclose it.
It’s not like Pai was going to face a grilling, though: Shapiro was in favor of axing the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality ruling because it threatened “to undermine innovation and competition in the Internet ecosystem.” Pai fanboys, if they’re out there, will have to wait until next year at the earliest for his CES return.