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Father of Net Neutrality running for lieutenant governor of New York, crowdfunding campaign

“I think this is the future of fundraising. I think this would be a great thing for politics if the norm is that you raise small amounts of money from a huge mass of people.”
By JC Sevcik   |   Aug. 4, 2014 at 7:25 PM   |   Comments

NEW YORK, Aug. 4 (UPI) -- Tim Wu, an academic and public intellectual regarded as the father of Net Neutrality after coining the term in his 2003 paper, "Network Neutrality, Broadband Discrimination," is running for the office of lieutenant governor of New York and using the crowdfunding site Tilt to raise money for his campaign.

Wu and his running mate, gubernatorial hopeful Zephyr Teachout, a fellow law professor and activist, entered New York's Democratic Primary to challenge incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo, whom Wu and Teachout claim is corrupt.

But Cuomo, who has indeed found himself embroiled in corruption charges recently, even hiring a criminal defense lawyer to represent his office, has filed a lawsuit again the Teachout/Wu campaign, alleging the petition of signatures they collected to ensure their place on the Democratic Primary ballot is not legitimate and accusing Teachout of not meeting the residency requirements to run in the state of New York.

Wu and Teachout aren't going down easy or giving up in the face of what they refer to as "Cuomo's bullying," and have taken to Tilt, a crowdfunding site, to raise funds to combat the lawsuit and continue their campaign.

Wu, a Columbia law school professor, isn't your typical politician—described as "soft spoken" and "cerebral" by Tech Crunch, "Wu is a far cry from the stilted, shrill dialogue that makes up most of our modern political discourse," and would like to build a campaign platform "that touches on a lot of stuff that matters to tech people but never gets any attention in the real world," like Net Neutrality, the "concept that all data on the Internet should be treated equally, regardless of what sort of content it is, or who requested or sent it."

Net Neutrality is currently being threatened by telecommunication corporations that would like to be able to control internet bandwidth, offering faster speeds to those sites which pay more.

Wu explains his view of the ramifications of allowing telecommunications companies to control traffic on the web:

Net neutrality is a policy that lets smaller operators have some of the same advantages the big companies have. Someone who's trying to compete with Netflix can start, take their shot, win or lose, and they're more likely to win or lose based on the merits. There's a real danger with the payments from Netflix, YouTube, these kind of companies, to Comcast: it becomes virtually impossible to challenge them unless you have the same kind of deal they do. This is the real challenge created by these side payments, it's whether they make the internet incumbents impossible to challenge.

The FCC is currently reviewing comments on proceeding 14-28, Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet. The site crashed after comedian Jon Oliver encouraged viewers of his show Last Week Tonight to flood the FCC with input as they consider how to move forward with the issue.

If Teachout and Wu are elected, they plan to defend Net Neutrality by going after telecommunications conglomerates that have been consolidating control of the internet.

"Adding pressure to stop mergers," is one way Wu would address the issue:

We have this huge problem of carrier consolidation right now, with Comcast being the most obvious. There's just this new round coming. These guys are terrified of being what they should be, which is conduits. They want to build enough power to be able to extract money from the internet economy, essentially tax the internet economy. I don't think it's good for anybody — they already charge too much. The prices are ridiculous — in a way that's not just like, aww, high prices. Because their cable bill is so high, people are feeding their children lower-quality food. It's gotten to that level! It's a serious socioeconomic issue at this point. So I think the lieutenant governor can try to take care of things like that . . . The states are where the action is these days for a lot of policy areas.

Asked by the Verge about crowdfunding his political campaign, Wu says:
"I think this is the future of fundraising. I think this would be a great thing for politics if the norm is that you raise small amounts of money from a huge mass of people."

Follow @JCSevcik and @UPI on Twitter.
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