Facebook, Google, and Amazon are among the first 14 companies included in The Internet Association, a trade organization launched Wednesday that will lobby on behalf of online companies to promote their interests in Washington.
The Internet Association said it will serve as a place where the nation’s top Internet companies — normally competitors — can come together to fight for their common goals: protecting Internet freedom, encouraging innovation and economic growth and preserving the rights of users, according an association statement.
To achieve those goals, The Internet Association will advocate for and against new laws, hold educational sessions to teach policymakers about Internet issues and argue for the Internet’s importance to the economy.
“A free and innovative Internet is vital to our nation’s economic growth,” said Michael Beckerman, president and CEO of The Internet Association. “These companies are all fierce competitors in the market place, 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.”
Companies joining Facebook, Google and Amazon in The Internet Association include AOL, eBay, Expedia, IAC, LinkedIn, Monster Worldwide, Rackspace, salesforce.com, TripAdvisor, Yahoo and Zynga.
While The Internet Association claims it will work “in partnership with Main Street businesses and individual users,” it remains to be seen how it will become involved in privacy disputes between users and the involved companies.
The Internet Association, which has been in the works for months, comes less than a year after many of the member companies came out against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). If the member companies see a similar legislative threat in the future, the association will serve as a forum for coordinated effort against it.
Many of the Internet companies involved in the association have also been hiring seasoned public policy veterans to expand their influence in Washington.
Leslie Harris, president of the Center for Democracy and Technology, welcomed The Internet Association’s creation.
“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,” Harris said. “These companies have a crucial role to play in educating policymakers about how what happens in Washington affects online innovation and the ability of Internet-based services to empower citizens and communities across the country.”
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