Some major Internet companies have joined forces to create a trade association that will lobby the US federal government on their behalf.
The group, which is said to include the likes of Google, Amazon, eBay, and Facebook, will be called the Internet Association and will focus on Washington regulatory matters and public policy issues affecting large Internet companies when it formally launches in September.
The group will serve as a “unified voice of the Internet economy, representing the interests of America's leading Internet companies and their global community of users,” the group wrote on its website. It aims to “strengthen and protect an open, innovative and free Internet,” which it describes as “the greatest engine of economic growth and prosperity the world has ever known.”
Recent efforts from major Web companies have included attempts to streamline the process through which foreign engineers can obtain work visas, and to address net neutrality, privacy, and cybersecurity regulations.
Though the SOPA and PIPA anti-piracy - or censorship, depending on your point-of-view - bills were eventually thwarted, the massive public reaction they spurred confirms that the issue of open Internet is one that both content providers and consumers will have to contend with in the future.
"We want to educate [lawmakers] about the impact of the Internet in their congressional district. In September, we'll do a full rollout and announce companies and announce policy positions," said the group's president, former congressional adviser Michael Beckerman.
"The Internet isn't just Silicon Valley anymore, the Internet has moved to Main Street,” he added.
The formation of the Internet Association comes during a year that has seen both Google and Facebook invest more heavily in lobbying lawmakers.
Google boosted its federal lobbying spending by 90 per cent during the year’s second quarter, Reuters reports. The search giant, which is currently facing antitrust and privacy investigations in both the US and Europe, forked over $3.92 million (£2.5 million) to lobby federal agencies and lawmakers.
For its part, Facebook spent $960,000 (£620,000) to influence Washington decision-makers - that represents a 200 per cent increase from the same time last year. The company, which counts a user base of some 900 million people, has said its lobbying focused on privacy, immigration, and market structure issues, coinciding with its record $104 billion (£67 billion) IPO in May.
Amazon and eBay spent $400,600 (£250,000) and $690,000 (£445,000) respectively on federal lobbying during the year’s second quarter.
Thought the practice of lobbying legislators and influential members of regulatory bodies has long been the norm in the US, it’s not without controversy.
And as advocates continue to express concerns about privacy and security issues and the need for stricter regulation of both - especially with regards to protecting consumers from data-miners like Google and Facebook - the launch of the Internet Association could spark even more concerns about government collusion with the day’s leading Internet companies.