Facebook hires former FCC chair Martin to bolster regulatory expertise

Facebook has hired former FCC chairman Kevin Martin as its vice president for mobile and global access policy as it works to bring the internet to more parts of the world.

Martin, who has been a consultant to the social network for the last two years, will be based in Washington. His arrival comes as Facebook looks to untangle its somewhat complex stance on web and telecoms regulation that is caught between its backing of tougher net neutrality rules and its bid to provide free web access to Facebook and other selected services in emerging markets.

Its efforts to date have sparked critics from net neutrality advocates arguing the company is erecting a walled garden and carriers who claim Facebook wants to drive down costs. Meanwhile, the plan to take the internet to new markets has been met with resistance, most recently last month when protesters in India slammed the project for limiting the access to only a select few content providers.

Martin will likely be tasked with helping the business arrest these concerns.

He served on the FCC from 2001 and was chairman between 2005 and 2009. His stint as chairman is reportedly seen as being a relatively hands off period for the FCC.

Like other major online companies, Facebook has stepped up its lobbying efforts. Last year, the social network spent $9m on lobbying around issues including immigration, according to the Centre for Responsive Politics.

Martin’s arrival comes as Facebook’s chief privacy officer Erin Egan assumes additional responsiblities as its vice president of US public policy.

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