Internet companies including Facebook, Amazon, eBay and Google are joining forces to exercise their collective might in Washington. On Wednesday the companies officially launched a new lobbying group with the uninventive title the Internet Association, to "tackle regulatory and political issues in Washington, D.C," reports Reuters.
It will lobby on issues such as allocation of visas for engineers and matters of privacy and piracy, said the group's president Michael Beckerman, a former advisor to Fred Upton, chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce Committee.
According to an interview with Beckermen in the Hill earlier this year, the contentious debate over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in January served as "a 'wake up call' for Internet companies to join forces." The Internet companies rallied massive support and coordinated an online blackout of sites including Wikipedia to successfully protest the anti-piracy legislation.
Will Internet users benefit? It's complicated. As with any lobby, the Internet Association formed to protect its own interests. Although SOPA protests gained broad support, future lobbying may prove less popular. The group will, for example, oppose certain privacy regulation intended to protect consumer information.