Tim Wu on FCC's new internet rules: Goodbye, Net Neutrality; Hello, Net Discrimination

Tim Wu

Tim Wu

Tim Wu, who first popularized the term 'net neutrality,' writes a passionate opinion piece in the New Yorker on new rules proposed by Obama's chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Thomas Wheeler, which amount to "an explicit and blatant violation" of the president's promise to keep the internet an equal playing field for all.

In fact, it permits and encourages exactly what Obama warned against: broadband carriers acting as gatekeepers and charging Web sites a payola payment to reach customers through a "fast lane." Late last night Wheeler released a statement accusing the Wall Street Journal of being "flat-out wrong." Yet the Washington Post has confirmed, based on inside sources, that the new rule gives broadband providers "the ability to enter into individual negotiations with content providers … in a commercially reasonable matter." That's telecom-speak for payola payments, and a clear violation of Obama's promise.

This is what one might call a net-discrimination rule, and, if enacted, it will profoundly change the Internet as a platform for free speech and small-scale innovation. It threatens to make the Internet just like everything else in American society: unequal in a way that deeply threatens our long-term prosperity.

Read: "Goodbye, Net Neutrality; Hello, Net Discrimination." [The New Yorker]

Tim Wu is a professor at Columbia Law School and wrote "The Master Switch." He is a former senior advisor to the FCC and chairman of internet advocacy org Free Press, which is running a campaign to let the FCC know about public opinion on the proposed new rules. Let your voice be heard.

Previously on Boing Boing: "FCC planning new Internet rules that will gut Net Neutrality. Get ready to pay more for the stuff you love online."