Ajit Pai, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, has abruptly canceled plans to speak at CES in Las Vegas next week. This marks the first time in five years that he has missed the show and would have been his first appearance as Chairman. Pai has been widely criticized after his FCC voted to roll back net neutrality legislation that protected consumers. This move has made him unpopular with most of the country except for executives at internet service providers, to whom he's got close personal ties.
He was originally scheduled to appear next Tuesday in an interview with Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman and fellow Republican Maureen Ohlhausen. This was intended to be a "candid conversation" and would have been moderated by Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Technology Association. Shapiro has voiced his support for Pai's controversial reversal of net neutrality legislation as well.
While it's likely that the majority of attendees at CES do not have a favorable opinion of Pai, the reason for the cancellation is unclear since the FCC declined to comment.
FTC Chairwoman Ohlhausen will still attend the convention despite his absence. The FTC released a brief message stating, "Unfortunately, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is unable to attend CES 2018. We look forward to our next opportunity to host a technology policy discussion with him before a public audience."