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Tim Wu is an American lawyer, professor at Columbia Law School, and contributing opinion writer for The New York Times. He is best known for coining the phrase network neutrality in his 2003 paper Network Neutrality, Broadband Discrimination,[2] and popularizing the concept thereafter. Wu has also made significant contributions to antitrust policy and wireless communications policy, most notably with his "Carterfone" proposal.[3]

Tim Wu
2014 at Wikipedia Day in New York City
Born1971/1972 (age 46–47)[1]
Alma materMcGill University (BA)
Harvard Law School (JD)
OccupationProfessor at Columbia Law School
Known forCoining the term "net neutrality"
Political partyDemocratic Party
Spouse(s)Kate Judge
Children2 Edit this at Wikidata
Tim Wu
Traditional Chinese吳修銘
Simplified Chinese吴修铭

Wu is a scholar of the media and technology industries, and his academic specialties include antitrust, copyright, and telecommunications law. Wu was named to The National Law Journal's "America's 100 Most Influential Lawyers" in 2013, as well as to the "Politico 50" in 2014 and 2015. Additionally, Wu was named one of Scientific American's 50 people of the year in 2006, and one of Harvard University's 100 most influential graduates by 02138 magazine in 2007.[4] His book The Master Switch was named among the best books of 2010 by The New Yorker magazine,[5] Fortune magazine,[6] Publishers Weekly,[7] and other publications.

From 2011 to 2012, Wu served as a Senior Advisor to the Federal Trade Commission,[8] and from 2015–2016 he was senior enforcement counsel at the New York Office of the Attorney General, where he launched a successful lawsuit against Time-Warner cable for falsely advertising their broadband speeds.[9] In 2016 Wu joined the National Economic Council in the Obama White House to work on competition policy.[10]


Early lifeEdit

Wu was born in Washington, D.C.[11] and grew up in Basel, Switzerland, and Toronto, Ontario, Canada.[12] His father, Alan Ming-ta Wu, was from Taiwan and his mother, Gillian Wu,[13] is British-Canadian.[14] They both studied as immunologists at the University of Toronto.[15] Wu and his younger brother were sent to alternative schools that emphasized creativity. At school, he befriended Cory Doctorow.[13] Wu's father died in 1980 and his mother bought him and his brother an Apple II computer using some of the insurance money, starting Wu's fascination with computers.[3]

Wu attended McGill University, where he initially studied biochemistry[15] and later switched his major to biophysics.[13] He graduated from McGill with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1995 and received his J.D. degree from Harvard Law School in 1998. At Harvard, he studied under copyright scholar Lawrence Lessig.[15]


Wu worked with the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Legal Counsel, after graduating from law school, and before starting a clerkship with Richard Posner on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in 1998-1999.[16] He also clerked for Stephen Breyer, U.S. Supreme Court in 1999-2000.[16] Following his clerkships, Wu moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, worked at Riverstone Networks, Inc. (2000–02)[17] and then entered academia at the University of Virginia School of Law.[16]

Wu was Associate Professor of Law at the University of Virginia from 2002 to 2004, Visiting Professor at Columbia Law School in 2004, Visiting Professor at Chicago Law School in 2005, and Visiting Professor at Stanford Law School in 2005.[18] In 2006, he became a full professor at Columbia Law School[19] and started Project Posner, a free database of all of Richard Posner's legal opinions.[20] Wu called Posner "probably America's greatest living jurist."[20]

The Master SwitchEdit

Wu's 2010 book The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires described a long "cycle" whereby open information systems become consolidated and closed over time, reopening only after disruptive innovation. The book shows this cycle develop with the rise of the Bell AT&T telephone monopoly, the founding of the Hollywood entertainment industry, broadcast and cable TV industries, and finally with the internet industry. He looks at the example of Apple Inc., which began as a company dedicated to openness that evolved into a more closed system under the leadership of Steve Jobs, demonstrating that the internet industry will follow the historical cycle of the rise of Information empires (though Wu discuss Google as an important counterpoint). The book was named one of the best books of 2010 by The New Yorker magazine,[5] Fortune magazine,[6],[21] The Washington Post,[22] Publishers Weekly,[7] and others.

New York politicsEdit

at a campaign event

Wu ran for the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor of New York in 2014, campaigning alongside gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout.[23] Wu and Teachout ran against Andrew Cuomo, the incumbent governor, and Kathy Hochul, an upstate Democrat and former Representative in the House. Teachout and Wu ran to the left of Cuomo and Hochul. Hochul won the race for Lieutenant Governor; Wu took 40% of the popular vote.[24]

In a Washington Post interview discussing his candidacy, Wu described his approach to the campaign as one positioned against the concentration of private power: "A hundred years ago, antitrust and merger enforcement was front page news. And we live in another era of enormous private concentration. And for some reason we call all these 'wonky issues.' They're not, really. They affect people more than half a dozen other issues. Day to day, people's lives are affected by concentration and infrastructure... You can expect a progressive-style, trust-busting kind of campaign out of me. And I fully intend to bridge that gap between the kind of typical issues in electoral politics and questions involving private power."[25]

The New York Times editorial board endorsed Wu for lieutenant governor in the Democratic Party primary, although they offered no endorsement for the office of governor.[26][27]

In September 2015, The New York Times reported Wu's appointment to the Office of New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.[28] Wu works on issues involving technology, including protecting consumers and ensuring fair competition among companies that do business online.


Wu speaks on a panel at Wikipedia Day 2017.

Wu is credited with popularizing the concept of network neutrality in his 2003 paper Network Neutrality, Broadband Discrimination. The paper considered network neutrality in terms of neutrality between applications, as well as neutrality between data and Quality of Service-sensitive traffic, and proposed some legislation to potentially deal with these issues.[29][30]

In 2006, Wu wrote "The World Trade Law of Internet Filtering", which analyzed the possibility of the World Trade Organization's treating censorship as a barrier to trade.[31] In June 2007, when Google Inc. lobbied the United States Trade Representative to pursue a complaint against China's censorship at the WTO, Wu's paper was cited as a "likely source" for this idea.[32] In 2006, Wu was also invited by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to help draft the first network neutrality rules attached to the AT&T and BellSouth merger.[3]

In 2007, Wu published a paper proposing a "Wireless Carterfone" rule for mobile phone networks;[33] the rule was adopted on July 31, 2007 by the Federal Communications Commission for the United States 2008 wireless spectrum auction, with FCC Commissioner Michael Copps stating: "I find it extremely heartening to see that an academic paper—in this case by Professor Timothy Wu of Columbia Law School—can have such an immediate and forceful influence on policy."[34] In November 2007 BusinessWeek credited Wu with providing "the intellectual framework that inspired Google's mobile phone strategy."[3]

With his Columbia Law School colleagues Professors Scott Hemphill and Clarisa Long, Wu co-directs the Columbia Law School Program on Law and Technology, founded in 2007.[35][36] In August 2007, in collaboration with the University of Colorado School of Law's Silicon Flatirons Program, the Columbia Law School Program on Law and Technology launched a Beta version of AltLaw, which he produced.[37]

Wu has appeared on the television programs The Colbert Report[38] and Charlie Rose.[39]

Personal lifeEdit

Wu is married to Kate Judge, also a Columbia Law professor. They have two daughters.[40]

Selected publicationsEdit


  • Wu, Tim (2010). The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires. New York: Knopf (ISBN 0307269930, ISBN 978-0-307-26993-5)
  • Goldsmith, Jack L., and Tim Wu (2006). Who Controls the Internet? Illusions of a Borderless World. New York: Oxford UP (ISBN 0195152662, ISBN 978-0-19-515266-1)
  • Wu, Tim (2016) The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads. New York: Knopf (ISBN 978-0-385-35201-7)
  • Wu, Tim (2018) The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age. Columbia Global Reports (ISBN 978-0-9997454-6-5)


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Ante, Spencer E. (27 July 2014). "Ivy League Power Propels Columbia's Tim Wu in Bid to be New York's Lieutenant Governor >". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  2. ^ Wu, T. (2003). "Network Neutrality, Broadband Discrimination". Journal of Telecommunications and High Technology Law. 2: 141–179. doi:10.2139/ssrn.388863. SSRN 388863.
  3. ^ a b c d Ante, Spencer E. (8 November 2008). "Tim Wu, Freedom Fighter". BusinessWeek.
  4. ^ "Tim Wu". OECD Ministerial Meeting on the Future of the Internet Economy, June 2008. Archived from the original on January 18, 2009. Retrieved 10 December 2008.
  5. ^ a b "Reviewer's Favorites". The New Yorker.
  6. ^ a b Wu, Tim (2010-12-22). "America's Original Startup". Fortune.
  7. ^ a b "Best Books of 2010". Publishers Weekly.
  8. ^ "Professor Tim Wu Named Advisor to Federal Trade Commission on Consumer Protection, Competition", Columbia University Public Affairs, New York, Feb. 8, 2011
  9. ^ Lovett, Kenneth. "EXCLUSIVE: Charter/Spectrum Cable agrees to record $174M settlement for misleading customers on internet speed: AG's office - NY Daily News". Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  10. ^ "Net neutrality advocate Tim Wu joins White House". POLITICO. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  11. ^ "TIM WU". General Assembly. Retrieved September 10, 2014.
  12. ^ Sommer, Jeff (May 10, 2014). "Defending the Open Internet". The New York Times. Retrieved September 10, 2014.
  13. ^ a b c Warnica, Richard (September 6, 2014). "Toronto superstar academic who coined 'net-neutrality' could be nominee for N.Y. lieutenant-governor". National Post.
  14. ^ Chen, David W. (August 31, 2014). "Inspired by His Father's Activism, Tim Wu Is Running for Lieutenant Governor as an Outsider". The New York Times. Retrieved September 10, 2014.
  15. ^ a b c Ante, Spencer E. (2007-11-08). "Tim Wu, Freedom Fighter". BusinessWeek.
  16. ^ a b c "Tim Wu". Columbia University School of Law.
  17. ^ Kim, Ryan (January 25, 2008). "Net neutrality guru to speak at USF". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved September 11, 2014.
  18. ^ "Tim Wu". Columbia Law School. Retrieved 10 December 2008.
  19. ^ Schneider-Mayerson, Anna (November 20, 2006). "Wu-Hoo! Nutty Professor Is Voice of a Generation". New York Observer. Retrieved September 11, 2014.
  20. ^ a b Lattman, Peter (2006-10-06). "A Paean to the Opinions of the Prolific Judge Posner". The Wall Street Journal Law Blog. Retrieved 2008-10-17.
  21. ^ "Best Books of 2010".
  22. ^ "The five best books I read this year". Washington Post.
  23. ^ "zephyr-teachout-challenges-andrew-cuomo",
  24. ^ News, WNYC Data. "Election 2014 - WNYC". Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  25. ^ Fung, Brian (June 16, 2014). "15 questions for Tim Wu, the net neutrality scholar who’s running for N.Y. lieutenant governor". Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-04-16.
  26. ^ "Timothy Wu for Lieutenant Governor", editorial, The New York Times, August 27, 2014. Retrieved 2014-08-28.
  27. ^ "The Governor’s Primary in New York: Governor Cuomo’s Failure on Ethics Reform Hinders an Endorsement", editorial, The New York Times, August 26, 2014. Retrieved 2014-08-30.
  28. ^ Kaplan, Thomas (2015-09-13). "Tim Wu, Open Internet Advocate, Joins New York Attorney General's Office". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-12-07.
  29. ^ Wu, Tim. "Network Neutrality, Broadband Discrimination" (PDF). Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  30. ^ "Tim Wu Elected Board Chair At Free Press". Columbia Law School. 14 April 2008.
  31. ^ Wu, Tim (2006-05-06). "The World Trade Law of Internet Filtering". SSRN. SSRN 882459. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  32. ^ Rugaber, Christopher S. (2007-06-25). "Google Fights Internet Censorship". Washington Post.
  33. ^ Wu, Tim (2007). "Wireless Carterfone". International Journal of Communication: 389–426. Retrieved 2007-11-09.
  34. ^ "Statement of FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps on the 700 MHz Service Rules". Free Press Newsroom (Press release). (Free Press). 2007-07-31. Retrieved 2008-08-24.
  35. ^ "Program on Law and Technology at Columbia University School of Law". Programs & Centers. Columbia University. Retrieved 2008-08-24.
  36. ^ "Program on Law and Technology at Columbia University School of Law". Columbia Law School, Columbia University. Retrieved 2008-08-24.
  37. ^ "About AltLaw". Archived from the original on 2008-07-13. Retrieved 2008-08-24. Written by Stuart Sierra and Paul Ohm, with help from Luis Villa and Dana Powers, and produced by Tim Wu.
  38. ^ End of Net Neutrality - Tim Wu-The Colbert Report - Video Clip | Comedy Central, retrieved 2016-07-18
  39. ^ "Charlie Rose". Hulu. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  40. ^ Vilensky, Mike. "Ivy League Power Propels Columbia's Tim Wu in Bid to be New York's Lieutenant Governor". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved September 10, 2014.

Further reading and resourcesEdit

Audiovisual resourcesEdit

External linksEdit