During the internet’s early days, regulators and legislators chose a hands-off approach to let the burgeoning technology grow and develop, said former FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell, a Republican. Even as ISPs gained more power as gateways to the web and attracted more regulatory attention, technology companies were still viewed as startups with modest and benevolent interests, he said. Although edge providers may now wield equal or more influence than ISPs, he said, there’s a “regulatory asymmetry” in which ISPs are still the more regulated group, McDowell said.he pair of early-April Cambridge Analytica congressional hearings, during which lawmakers grilled Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on how his social media empire handles customer data streams, underscored that divide and emphasized the need to scrutinize both tech and telecom, McDowell said.“That probably came out in the hearing[s]. And I think where this debate is leading is to more of a level playing field,” he said.
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