The biggest names from Silicon Valley are flocking to Washington in order to make an impact on Capitol Hill. Under the name ‘The Internet Association,” Google, Facebook, Amazon and others have set up shop on K Street to lobby Congress.
The Internet Association officially got off the ground on Wednesday by announcing that after months of work, the coalition that includes employees from the Web’s biggest entities has entered the world of lobbying.
“A free and innovative Internet is vital to our nation’s economic growth,” Michael Beckerman, president and CEO of The Internet Association, says in a statement this week. “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.”
In all, 14 companies have so far signed on to be part of the group, including Amazon, AOL, eBay, Expedia, IAC, LinkedIn, Monster, Rackspace, salesforce.com, TripAdvisor, Yahoo and Zynga. The full roster is listed on the coalition’s website, which advertises itself as being “dedicated to advancing public policy solutions to strengthen and protect Internet freedom, foster innovation and economic growth and empower users.” In order to do as much, though, it’ll require some serious campaigning in Washington, which has some skeptics already concerned about how cozy lobbyists and lawmakers will become when the future of the Internet is at stake.
Google, without a question the biggest name on the Web, has already argued in Washington in hopes of being heard by Congress, but it’s been an effort that hasn’t come cheaply. In only the first half of 2012, Google’s political action committee, NetPAC, spent $423,000 on the campaign efforts of lawmakers, with an additional $36,500 coming by way of Yahoo. In terms of direct lobbying, though, that amount seems meager. Google’s lobbying efforts during the first two quarters of 2012 cost them $9 million, with Facebook forking over another $1.6 million on their own.
Tim Worstall, a contributor with Forbes, writes that something seems amiss that these entities are about to spend even more to have their voices heard together. “When anyone even remotely successful has to run to Washington to stop them ending that success then yes, we’ve got a problem, don’t we?” he writes in an op-ed published this week.
For Michael Beckerman, the coalition’s CEO, it’s a maneuver that is necessary in order to make sure legislation that’ll grossly regulate the Web isn’t weighed by Congress, such as the Stop Online Piracy Act that spurred a massive blackout and protests earlier this year and last.