Former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said his family was so severely harassed in 2017 after he repealed the Obama-era internet rules known as net neutrality that he had to take extraordinary security measures.
“People were threatening to murder my children,” said Pai during an interview with the Washington Examiner. “So, my son, who was in kindergarten at the time, couldn’t take the school bus to school for that entire year.”
Pai, who was confirmed to head the commission in 2017, stepped down from his position on Inauguration Day. He said the vicious attacks against his family were one of the worst events of his tenure.
Pai said the protesters even violated the privacy of his home.
“I had to spend thousands of dollars out of my own pocket for a home security system, my personal email account was hacked, my in-laws would get calls at three in the morning, cursing them out for no reason at all,” said Pai. He added that people would come to his home in Virginia and leave unmarked packages on the porch and take photographs through the window.
He said the threats have not stopped. He received one just last week.
At the center of the attacks against Pai was his push to remove net neutrality rules, which previously placed more regulations on internet providers and prevented them from providing slower traffic to particular sites.
Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers should treat all data on the internet the same and not discriminate or charge differently based on where it’s coming from or who it’s going to.
He undid the FCC’s Obama-era rule-making that classified internet service providers such as AT&T and Comcast as Title II public utilities, subject to FCC control. That was done in order to impose more stringent oversight of companies, to ensure they cannot block or inhibit access to certain types of web services from different providers, or create pay-to-play fast lanes for certain content.
Pai, who received federal protection, said that threats to harm his children were the most scary.
“I remember being at work, and I got a series of emails, and one had a picture of my kids, another one had addresses of preschools that are near my house. And a third one had an explicit threat,” said Pai. “It was along the lines of, I am coming to murder your children.”
“I mean, what do you do with that in the moment? Do you leave work? You’re thinking, is the person there? Did they have inside information about where my kids go to school?” Pai said.