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Net neutrality, and a conversation with Tim Wu

Molly Wood Dec 20, 2010
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Net neutrality, and a conversation with Tim Wu

Molly Wood Dec 20, 2010
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The Federal Communications Commission will vote tomorrow on a proposal to regulate Internet providers. The plan, being put forth by chairman Julius Genachowski, would require Internet providers to carry all Internet content that is legal. It also makes it harder for broadband carriers to slow down some traffic and give a fast lane to other traffic. For wireless, the restrictions are looser.

Tim Wu is a professor at Columbia Law School. His new book, “The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires,” talks about how emerging technologies have been handled in the past. Radio used to be wide open, people starting stations all over, after a while it was just big companies. Telephones, same situation.

He says this pattern of a new communications form being the Wild West is generally followed by a winnowing down to a handful of companies running everything. He says the web is so diffuse and decentralized that that may not happen here, at least not right away. But Internet service is delivered by a very limited number of companies and companies will always turn toward what’s profitable even if it comes at the expense of what’s most egalitarian.

Also in this show, we meet Kevyn Smith and Jeremy Johnson. They create musical versions of tweets, including ours.

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