By Mike Wendy
Looks like George Soros and Free Press have graduated another of their ranks into the vaunted halls of U.S. policymakers. It was announced yesterday that Columbia Law professor, Free Press Chairman and father of the elastic term “Net Neutrality,” Tim Wu, will be going to the FTC to help the agency develop “rules for the Internet platform” (no doubt a job title as flexible as the ever-morphing term Net Neutrality itself).
Most recently, Wu has been known for his tech-wonk book, The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires. Though Wu has long been identified as radically pro-regulatory – for instance, pushing hard for preemptive rules like the FCC’s new Net Neutrality regulations – that advocacy seemingly has some industry experts less worried than an idea he promotes in Master Switch called the “Separation Principle.”
Tim’s blueprint for “reforming” technology policy represents an audacious industrial policy for the Internet and America’s information sectors. In concrete regulatory terms…[His] Separations Principle would segregate information providers into three buckets: creators, distributors, and hardware makers. Presumably these would become three of the new “titles” (or regulatory sections) of a forthcoming Information Economy Separations Act.
…[This] proposed information apartheid would upend the American economy as we know it (for instance, by forcing the breakup of dozens of leading technology companies as well as countless media and entertainment providers).
Other analysts share similar concerns. Notes Scott Cleland:
The FTC would have been hard-pressed to find a more anti-business, pro-government-regulation-of-the-Internet person to advise the FTC “on rules for the Internet platform.”
If Mr. Wu’s hubristic announcement of his intentions and his regulatory past are any indication, he will have the FTC chasing after new imagined problems (that require immediate and interventionist government economic regulation) in no time.
FTC advisor Tim Wu + President Obama’s pledge of no burdensome regulation = regulatory dissonance.
That’s a problem which may see little end. Wu joins an excusive and growing club of Soros-connected federal policymakers (current and former), including Mark Lloyd, Chief Diversity Officer at the FCC; Van Jones, (once) Special Advisor to the President for Green Jobs; Ben Scott, Advisor for Innovation Policy at the State Department; and Jen Howard, Senior Communications Advisor for the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (the last three all from Free Press board or staff).
More will surely come, which is the aim of Soros and his ilk. And, with them, policies that seek to fundamentally alter the nature of our government to capitalism, as well as to our individual liberties.