Tim Wu, man who coined ‘net neutrality,’ sees Apple as primary threat

Nick Bilton reports for The New York Times, “Tim Wu, the Columbia law professor who came up with the term ‘net neutrality’ in a research paper, has just written a new book, “The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires,” published by Knopf. The book chronicles the rise and fall of companies that develop new technologies, and discusses the future of the Internet.”

Q: When did you first use the term “net neutrality”?
A: I was working in Silicon Valley in the early 2000s for a company that sold technologies designed to filter and block areas of the Internet. Something about it didn’t sit well with me. So I wrote a paper in 2002 for a conference that explained my thoughts on this. Originally, the phrase I was promoting was “broadband discrimination,” and I also said “network neutrality,” to capture the concept, which ended up becoming the default.

Q: What about Facebook?
A: I think Facebook is looking for a mentor, they are looking for a role model. Right now it is choosing between Apple and Google in this great war between open and closed. It is possible that whatever side Facebook takes will have a lot to do with the future of how we communicate.

Q: What worries you about Apple?
A: As I discuss in the book, Steve Jobs has the charisma, vision and instincts of every great information emperor. 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.

Q: What part of these “evil” acts are the C.E.O.’s and what part are the employees?
A: I think the mogul makes the medium, but it’s also true that once a firm has been in existence long enough, it begins to have a life of its own.

Q: Do you think that will apply to Apple?
A: Yes.

Q: But who will take over it from Steve Jobs?
A: I think it may not matter. I think the mark of Steve Jobs is firmly placed on that firm, that it will continue to be him long after he passes from leadership.

Read more in the full article here.


  1. I’m not familiar with Wu’s body of work.
    It would appear that Steve Jobs does not fit in with his vision of how the interwebs should work (information emperor?).

  2. Apple is not the threat. Apple profits from selling the devices used to access Internet data. Apple really does not care too much if you access data through Apple (via the iTunes Store) or some other source, as long as you buy an Apple computer (Mac, iPhone, iPad, whatever the future brings) to do the accessing. On the other hand, Google (and Facebook) profit directly from providing access to Internet-based data.

    Which has greater incentive and motivation to exert control over the Internet, Apple or Google?

  3. “but he wants too much control.”

    I disagree with this statement, prove it. Apple is not MS, steal, lie and cheat your way to the top. Google?! Well that’s is stealing and of course blackmail.

    I do not see Apple (or Steve) is trying to control anything other then their product and the quality of the user experience if they purchase those products. Is this any different then any other company that makes quality products? If I make a great car, do I have to setting for someone else telling me what I can an can not put in it. Doesn’t a great chief do that same, control his kitchen?

    Prove it.

  4. Yet he gives no concrete reasons or examples of how Apple will manage to control everyone. As far as I can see, Apple hasn’t censored any books or music. Can’t say as much about Amazon.

    And he also falls into the “open and closed” bulls**t argument.

  5. Tim Wu is either seriously confused or he has a radically different concept of what net neutrality is than most people do. But the popular definition seems to be the one he’s using, so I’m gonna have to go with “Tim Wu is seriously confused”.

    Maybe he thinks the App Store is an ISP…?

  6. Apple runs the ‘net? And here I thought AT&T, Verizon, Time Warner, Comcast, Level 3, etc. etc. provided the ‘net. Next thing you’ll be telling me Toyotas are made in the United States.

  7. No MDN take? I would have expected MDN to savage these moronic opinions. Or is the fact that there is an ad for Wu’s book running at the top of the page keeping y’all from unloading with both barrels?

    Not that I would necessarily blame ya, but…

  8. We should listen. I know there are a lot of hardcore Apple fanboys here, but as a Mac user, I am growing more concerned about the control Apple has and where it is leading. I’ll just say that I love Mac OS X, but I’m keeping an eye on Linux…but even there things are getting dicey. I think the future is going to be drastically different than what we have grown used to.

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