WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A California man was sentenced to 20 months in prison on Friday after pleading guilty for threatening to kill the family of U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai over the regulator’s successful effort to repeal net neutrality rules.
The Justice Department said Markara Man, 33, of Norwalk, California, sent the email threats “in hopes it would cause (Pai) to reverse his position on net neutrality.”
The FCC did not immediately comment after the sentencing by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
Led by Pai, the FCC in December 2017 repealed landmark net neutrality protections, which required internet service providers to provide users equal access to all data, regardless of their kind, source or destination.
Net neutrality rules barred providers from blocking or slowing internet content or offering paid “fast lanes.”
The reversal of the rules has been a win for ISPs such as Comcast Corp, AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications Inc, but was opposed by companies like Facebook Inc, Amazon.com Inc and Google’s parent Alphabet Inc.
When Markara pleaded guilty in September 2018, Pai thanked law enforcement and the FCC for protecting him and his family, adding “I am deeply grateful for all they have done to keep us safe.”
In November 2018, Tyler Barriss pleaded guilty for calling in a bomb threat to the FCC during the December 2017 meeting where the vote to repeal net neutrality was held.
Reporting by Chris Sanders; Editing by Richard Chang