On Friday, a man from California was sentenced to more than a year and a half in prison for threatening to kill the president of the Federal Communications Commission Ajit Pai and his family for the controversial derogation of network neutrality by the agency.
The threats took place in December of 2017 when the FCC took the vote to reverse the net neutrality regulations under the leadership of Pai. As voting day approached, a man named Markara Man, 33, began sending Pai emails with threats against him and his family.
Apparently, the first email accused the derogation of net neutrality, and therefore Pai, of causing a teenager. Die by suicide. The following email allegedly made explicit threats to kill Pai and his family, including specific addresses in Arlington, Virginia and the surrounding area. The last one contained images of the president and his family.
These emails are what brought the FBI to Man and his home in Norwalk, California, where he was arrested last June. Man told investigators that he sent the emails from the address "[email protected]" to make it look "harder." The man also claimed that the emails were intended only to scare Pai, and that he did not intend to really hurt him.
After FBI investigators arrived at Man's house, court documents say he restarted his factory phone, erasing the evidence. When the investigators heard about the reboot, Man lied to them and said it was a phone that he had received a month earlier and had not yet configured.
"Threatening to kill the family of a federal official because of a disagreement over the policy is not only inexcusable, it is also criminal," said US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia G. Zachary Terwilliger in a statement . "This accusation demonstrates not only that we take criminal threats seriously, but also that threats of online violence have real consequences."
Since Pai announced that he would work to reduce net neutrality, he began receiving threats. During the six months after the commission's vote, Pai told him The Wall Street Journal that he and his family were still receiving threats, and that, as a result, he required 24/7 security. He has not been able to perform at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, an event he attended regularly, since he took a firm stance on net neutrality.