If you were hoping to argue with Ajit Pai at CES, you’ll have to wait until next year

Image: Carolyn Kaster/AP/REX/Shutterstock

CES, the tech industry’s largest annual trade show, begins next week (Jan. 9-12), but the chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission will not be attending.

Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, which organizes CES, announced today that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has canceled his appearance one week before the show.

“Unfortunately, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is unable to attend CES 2018,” Shapiro’s statement reads.

“We look forward to our next opportunity to host a technology policy discussion with him before a public audience.”

The move is out of character for an FCC chairman — Pai has attended the past six consecutive CES conferences and former FCC chairman Tom Wheler was a regular attendee.

This year, Pai was slated to appear on a panel with CTA CEO Gary Shapiro to discuss connectivity and broadband access.

CTA has provided no further indication of the reasoning behind Pai’s decision. But just a month after the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality, of which Pai was champion, the conference probably wouldn’t have welcomed him with open arms.

An online petition demanding his resignation collected over 10,000 signatures in December, and an op-ed he published in November arguing for repealing net neutrality prompted massive collective outrage across the internet.

Some Twitter users are postulating what — let’s be honest — we’re all thinking.

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