Tim Wu, the writer and law professor best known for coining the term net neutrality, has joined the office of the New York state attorney general Eric Schneiderman. According to a report from The New York Times, Wu will serve as a senior lawyer and special adviser to Schneiderman starting this week, focusing on issues surrounding technology, competition, and the protection of consumer rights. "If I have a life mission, it is to fight bullies," Wu told the Times. "I like standing up for the little guy, and I think that’s what the state A.G.’s office does."
Wu is something of a celebrity in tech circles thanks to his focus on antitrust issues such as search engine competition and his advocacy work for net neutrality (a concept that received Barack Obama's backing last year). Last year, he also made an unsuccessful bid to become lieutenant governor of New York state, running on a tech-friendly platform with proposed policies including blocking Comcast's attempted merger with Time Warner Cable.
Schneiderman's office has pursued tech companies such as Uber and Airbnb
A history like this means Wu is likely to be a good fit for Schneiderman's office. The attorney general has made it clear he wants to rein in the unregulated behavior of certain tech companies, tackling issues such as Uber's use of surge-pricing during hurricanes and snowstorms and illegal Airbnb listings in New York City. In an opinion piece published in The New York Times last year, Schneiderman said that regulators have been "struggling to keep up" with the digital marketplace, but that ignoring consumer protection laws "isn’t smart, or sustainable."
Wu echoed these sentiments this week, telling the Times that "the states are where the action is" when it comes to antitrust issues. He said: "I’m interested in working on pocketbook issues where consumers can feel it, where the new economy makes them nervous and where you want the government to be carefully watching companies who could be abusing customers."