FCC Chairman Ajit Pai cancels trip to CES amid government shutdown

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioner Brendan Carr are canceling their appearances at CES this year as a consequence of the ongoing partial government shutdown, according to Politico Pro.

Pai’s planned session with moderator Gary Shapiro, from the Consumer Technology Association, would have focused on “the exciting opportunities the FCC faces as the agency navigates the rapidly changing technological landscape.”

Carr was expected to attend a roundtable session with Federal Trade Commission Commissioner Rebecca Slaughter to discuss regulatory and policy issues involving 5G, privacy and accessibly, along with other topics.

Both events have been removed from the CES schedule, but organizers have yet to respond to requests for comment.

This will be the second year in a row that Pai has canceled his plans to attend the biggest consumer electronics showcase in the country. Last year, he cited safety concerns following the commission’s move to repeal the Open Internet Order, which reversed net neutrality regulations, only a few weeks prior to the conference. Last year, Recode reported that federal law enforcement intervened in Pai’s 2018 appearance, following death threats he received in the aftermath of the net neutrality rollback. It was the first time in five years that he had not attended the conference.

As of Thursday afternoon, non-essential FCC employees were furloughed and “most” operations were suspended as Congress battles it out over a funding package for the upcoming fiscal year. While the agency is shut down, consumer complaints will not be heard, consumer protection enforcement actions will be ceased, and licensing services will end until new funding is approved.

CES 2018 begins on January 8th and runs through the 11th. Pai was scheduled to speak on opening day at 1:30PM PST.