Scholar who coined 'net neutrality' advising NY attorney general

Tim Wu, the legal scholar who is credited with coining the term "net neutrality" and a notable voice on Internet policy, has joined the office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D).

The New York Times reported on Sunday night that Wu would be taking a sabbatical from Columbia Law School to act an adviser to Schneiderman, who has taken on some tech firms. Wu's salary will continue to be paid by Columbia, the Times reported.

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Wu will work with the office on technology issues. In addition to his work on net neutrality, he has studied competition issues.

“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,” Wu told the Times.

Schneiderman has been especially keen to examine the on-demand economy. He has waged a fight against lodging website Airbnb and alleged “widespread illegality across New York City listings” in a report last fall. In June, his office reached a financial settlement with ride-hailing company Lyft over alleged legal violations.

He told the Times that Wu’s “expertise in how legal rules can facilitate competition in modern markets is broad and deep, as is his commitment to justice and fairness.”

Wu’s hiring may also be seen as a subtle jab at New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), with whom Schneiderman reportedly has a bad relationship. Wu ran for lieutenant governor in 2014 against Cuomo’s running mate, Kathy Hochul. She won, but Wu garnered an unexpectedly high 40.1 percent of the vote.

Wu was an important voice in developing the idea of “network neutrality,” or the theory that all content on the Internet should be treated the same way, in the early 2000s.

Earlier this year, net neutrality advocates secured a victory when the Federal Communications Commission approved new regulations aimed at promoting net neutrality. Those rules are being challenged in court by trade groups and some telecom companies.