UPDATED 15:08 EDT / MARCH 05 2021


Tim Wu, prominent critic of big tech, joins Biden administration

President Joe Biden today appointed Columbia University law professor Tim Wu to the National Economic Council, in a move seen as a sign that tech giants could face stronger scrutiny in Washington.

Wu (pictured) is a prominent and longtime critic of the technology industry’s largest players. At the National Economic Council, he is taking on the role of special assistant to the president for technology and competition policy.

The New York Times reported this morning that Wu will work not only on competition policy but also on a number of related areas. He will reportedly focus on topics such as labor policy and the concentration of market power among major players in the agriculture and pharmaceutical sectors.

Wu is perhaps best known for coining the term “net neutrality” in 2003. Net neutrality is a principle stating that internet providers should treat data going through their networks equally and not throttle certain types of web traffic or charge more for access to popular services. In recent years, the principle has emerged at the center of discussions around telecommunications industry regulation. 

Besides being a professor at the Columbia Law School, Wu also worked on competition policy in the White House and the Federal Trade Commission during the Obama administration. He had previously served as senior enforcement counsel at the New York Office of the Attorney General.

More recently, in 2019, Wu reportedly argued for breaking up Facebook Inc. during meetings with federal and state officials who were investigating the social network’s business practices. According to Protocol, Wu was also an adviser to House Judiciary antitrust staffers who conducted the committee’s high-profile probe into Facebook, Apple Inc. and other tech giants last year. The investigation found that the companies have monopoly power in some of the areas where they operate.

Protocol, citing multiple sources, reported today that Wu will work to identify ways of boosting competition in the tech industry as part of his role in the National Economic Council. The publication cited an administration official as saying Wu’s work could involve, among other things, developing new rules around artificial intelligence and privacy. 

Photo: New America/Flickr

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