In the wake of failed anti-piracy bills, a number of competing tech titans including Facebook, Google, Amazon and Yahoo have teamed up to buy their own lobbying group to ensure that geeks have a voice in the next efforts to legislate the Internet, according to a recent report from the Washington Post.
The Internet Association will be headed by Michael Beckerman, the former deputy staff director of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, and aims to give the tech community a voice on a number of issues surrounding the Internet, including piracy, copyright, privacy and cybersecurity. Member companies include Amazon.com, AOL, eBay, Expedia, Facebook, Google, IAC, LinkedIn, Monster Worldwide, Rackspace, salesforce.com, TripAdvisor, Yahoo!, and Zynga. Notably missing were Microsoft and Apple.
“A free and innovative Internet is vital to our nation’s economic growth,” Beckerman said. “These companies are all fierce competitors in the marketplace, but they recognize the Internet needs a unified voice in Washington. They understand the future of the Internet is at stake and that we must work together to protect it.”
The lobbyist group was formed following the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act, two congressional efforts to legislate piracy and copyright on the Internet that were stopped due to widespread online protest, much of which was spurred by these same tech companies. Supported by Hollywood and other creative agencies, the bills were designed to curtail online theft, but many countered they had the side effect of limiting the free exchange of the Internet.
The Internet Association was formed in July, but the names of its participating companies have only recently been released. The group will run on three platforms- protecting Internet freedom, fostering innovation and economic growth, and empowering users. The group will engage in direct advocacy and work to educate lawmakers about the positive effects of the Internet such as job creation, freedom and education.
“The Internet is the fastest growing sector of the U.S. economy with an unparalleled record of job creation and innovation across all sectors,” Beckerman said. “It is the Internet’s decentralized and open model that has unleashed unprecedented entrepreneurialism, creativity and innovation. Policymakers must understand that the preservation of that freedom is essential to the vitality of the Internet itself and the resulting economic prosperity.”
The group has received formal support from the Center for Democracy & Technology, PC Magazine reported.
“The Internet Association represents companies at the forefront of the Internet revolution that are fueling new opportunities for economic growth, civic engagement, and free expression in every state in the nation,” CDT president Leslie Harris said in a statement.
Tech companies are certainly upping their investments in Washington power. The Washington Post noted that Google spent $9 million lobbying during the first two quarters of 2012, and $3.5 million during the same period last year. Facebook, meanwhile, has spent $1.6 million during the same period, compared to $550,000 the previous year.