Steve Wozniak on the FCC and Internet freedom

For Steve Wozniak, the issue of an open Internet is personal.

Earlier today, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak published a passionate open letter to the FCC that described his personal history with the telecommunications industry.

Wozniak followed that up with a surprise appearance at the Federal Communication Commission’s public hearing on new open Internet rules and net neutrality. Steven Levy of Wired Magazine tweeted about the unexpected arrival: “Woz is at FCC hearing to speak against the plan–sez that with these rules, he couldn’t have done Apple.”

Interviewed by various media outlets after the hearing (see video below), Wozniak explained his presence at the hearing:

I wanted to be here because this day was so significant to my life. I had a ham radio license when I was 10 years old. I had the FCC spectrums on my wall in my room. I grew up admiring the FCC … The FCC has always sort of had a white hat. This is a case where that hat could go black.

Wozniak was not happy with much of what he heard from the commission at today’s hearing:

I don’t think the rules went far enough in protecting individuals, but I tend to be very much on the side of the small guy being taken advantage of by the big guy. I feel sorry about that. I feel emotional about that.

Specifically, Wozniak expressed concerns over blocking issues:

… no blockages doesn’t mean there will be no inhibitions. It wasn’t clear what was presented here today to me if that means you can’t really favor one source over another. You know, an innovator comes along, they shouldn’t have any blocks on the Internet. To me, the Internet, the ISPs, should just be providing things like the copper to your house and the gear that puts it onto the Internet. Step back, get out of the way, don’t try to make it go your way.

Wozniak also noted he had been personally affected by nearly every issue FCC commissioner Michael Copps raised in his statement at the hearing.

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