Tim Wu, Creator of the Term ‘Net Neutrality,’ Joins the Federal Governmen
February 9, 2011, 12:29 PM
Tim Wu, Creator of the Term ‘Net Neutrality,’ Joins the Federal Government
By NICK BILTON
The Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday named Tim Wu, author of the book “The Master Switch,” a senior adviser for consumer protection and competition issues that affect the Internet and mobile phones.
Mr. Wu, a law professor at Columbia University, is best known for coining the term “net neutrality,” which refers to the principle that consumers should have unfettered access to all kinds of Internet content.
A press release issued by Columbia said Mr. Wu, who now teaches copyright law, communications and criminal law, would take a leave of absence from the university; he will start working with the F.T.C.’s Office of Policy Planning in mid-February. His job will be to assist the agency with “long-range competition and consumer protection policy initiatives,” the release said. It also said he would advise government employees on new legal cases associated with the Internet.
The F.T.C. chairman, Jon Leibowitz, said in a statement on Tuesday that Mr. Wu’s work with the agency would span the “nexus of consumer protection, competition, law and technology.”
In a recent interview with The New York Times, Mr. Wu discussed the possibility of a future in which the Internet could be controlled by a few large corporations, like AT&T, Apple, Verizon and Facebook. He warned that these large powerful companies could eventually control the type of content consumers have access to online. He compared that possibility to the situation he said exists with the large companies that own the television, radio and movie industries today.
Mr. Wu also discussed his concerns about Apple and its control of the App Store, in which the company decides what kinds of content the owners of the iPhone, the iPad and other Apple devices can view.
“As I discuss in the book, Steve Jobs has the charisma, vision and instincts of every great information emperor,” Mr. Wu said in the interview. “The man who helped create the personal computer 40 years ago is probably the leading candidate to help exterminate it. His vision has an undeniable appeal, but he wants too much control.”
Mr. Wu, who is usually vocal about his opinions on Internet policy, could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. But in a Twitter message, he said, “Starting next week, no more policy tweets.”