Tim Wu on Net Neutrality/Google-Verizon betrayal

In this deep, engrossing Engadget interview, law professor Tim Wu talks about Net Neutrality and why it matters, and why Google has been willing to abandon its commitment to an open network in a deal with Verizon. Tim coined the term Net Neutrality and has a new book coming out in November, The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires, which I just read for review; not surprisingly, it's one of the best analyses of network policy and the history of telecommunications and media I've ever read.

Engadget explains net neutrality -- and our full interview with Professor Tim Wu!


  1. Great video. I hope many, many others take the time to watch it. The idea of a million angry geeks marching on legislatures is an image that should be taken note of, in the US as well as other OECD countries.

    One thing I think could have been clearer, especially for people who never think about things like this, is that the telephone companies, wherever they are, started out as government departments. In the UK, BT was a branch of the post office. The plant in the ground, the wires on the poles, was paid for in large part by tax payer money. And the governments, starting in the ’70s, decided that privatization was the key to innovation. What it really meant was handing over the fruits of generations of taxpayers’ money being sold to the markets. And now citizens are being told they can’t have what the now privatized companies don’t want to provide. Networks, communication, sanitation, water or what have you, as a direct result of needing to have monopolistic or at least cartel properties in order to function, is not something that can be run like other businesses. Invisible hand economics does not work when standards and differentiation are in complete opposition.

  2. It’s not really Google’s fault, nor it’s responsibility.
    The justification of the agreement (it’s not a deal, money didn’t exchange hands) is to move the ball forward, the gov’t is frozen due to elections and it being incompetent in general, and they felt like they needed to act, they got Verizon to agree to wired neutrality (very big deal) and basically said that – for now – wireless will not require regulation, and explicitly said that they are still open to any better agreement if such did appear.

    1. The agreement does not bind all wired systems to Net Neutrality, only the current technology. Any “new technology”, including new wired technology is explicitly exempted. Current wired technologies are quickly becoming obsolete as will ALL Net Neutrality unless we get mobilized as we did in 2006. Write to the congress, write to FCC chairman Grenowski. As silly as it may seem it does and did make a difference.

  3. Cory, the interview isn’t strictly about the Verizon/Google agreement it’s about the issue on net neutrality as a whole, and actually professor Wu did have a great deal of praise for Google on many points.

  4. control over tools is nothing so extreme to make fun of it.

    the kind of laughter at about 30:50 borders to insulting the listener.


  5. I could buy any smartphone unlocked(what is locked phone?) and could pop in my GSM card in it. I always preferred pre paid cause post paid was too much paperwork and it cost almost same!(even I had post paid plan it didn’t have “contract”)

    even if I roamed all over country roaming was easy and very cheap.
    even if I talked hours my monthly bill could never go up 20$ with my unlimited data plan. Incoming calls were always free.

    This is the story of using cell phone in India not US.

  6. I love how so many engadget comments on this video are in support of the ISPs being able to do whatever they want and how net neutrality is essentially ant-american.

  7. Don’t be fooled by Wu and Google’s “good cop, bad cop” routine.

    Google is pretending to cozy up to Verizon and to be willing to bend on its demands for “network neutrality” regulation. In fact, it is paying lobbying groups like Wu’s to lobby for regulations that would outlaw the deal.

    The truth is that Google is still very much behind the push for regulation of the Internet, because that regulation would cement its multiple Internet monopolies at the expense of consumers. “Network neutrality” regulation is not needed and would be harmful. We need to keep government’s paws off the Net.

  8. This is all well and good, except the whole video is brought to us by Sprint. Notice how Sprint’s logo is conveniently _not_ included in the cute little animation of “the other big telecoms.” This video is very clever corporate propaganda.

    Don’t get me wrong, I also feel disheartened by Google’s recent actions with Verizon, but this video is not exactly unbiased – Sprint is obviously trying to take advantage of the Google/Verizon fiasco.

  9. I’d like to know what the historical precedent for the “angry geek” solution is. So in other words: just hope you don’t get rogered, but bend over anyway. Sounds awfully familiar.

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