Professor Tim Wu Files Amicus Brief in Net Neutrality Case
Wu, a Longtime Defender of an Open Internet, Argues Court Should Defer to Federal Communications Commission in Important Case
New York, September 21, 2015—Columbia Law School Professor Tim Wu filed a brief today in support of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) net neutrality rules, which are being challenged by telecom and cable companies in litigation before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
In part as a result of Wu’s efforts, the FCC voted in February to regulate the Internet like a public utility to ensure no content is blocked or given priority treatment.
In his brief, Wu addresses only one issue in the telecoms’ challenge to the rules: what he says is their “important and serious misrepresentation” as to how the broadband Internet service would be classified.
“While US Telecom suggests that the terms came with a meaning frozen in time, like an ant trapped in amber, the actual history suggests something different,” Wu writes. “It suggests that the regulatory distinction that the FCC created in the 1970s was a dynamic and evolving regime—one that adapted to factors like conditions of competition, industry history, and the nature of the underlying technologies, and one where the FCC was sometimes inconsistent and willing to change its mind.”
Although the telecoms may disagree with the FCC’s decision, Wu writes, the court should give deference to the agency’s policies. Wu was represented on the brief by attorney Andrew Jay Schwartzman, the Benton Senior Counselor at the Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown Law who headed the Media Access Project from 1978 to 2012. Janice Lee ’17, aided in the preparation of the brief
A leading authority on the Internet, media, and communications industries, Wu coined the term “net neutrality” in a law review article more than a decade ago and has been a leading advocate of the idea, testifying on the issue before the FCC. He is author of The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires, co-author of Who Controls the Internet?, and a regular contributor to The New Yorker. He currently is working on a sequel to The Master Switch about the history and value of human attention as a resource.