Google, Facebook, Amazon and eBay go to Washington

Meet the Internet Association, the big dot-coms’ lobby group
The gist of the message to be delivered in Washington.

Google and Facebook are not pals. Amazon has never played nicely with eBay. Yet all four, and undisclosed others, have gotten together to form a bickering supergroup more unlikely than the Avengers. It’s called the Internet Association–a Washington lobby group created to sway U.S. legislators as efforts to regulate and control the Internet ramp up.

Here’s what they’ll be fighting about:

  • Net Neutrality: The Internet Association doesn’t want Internet Service Providers like ComCast to play favourites with customer’s data. Without Net Neutrality, ComCast could slow down Skype calls or Youtube videos to make their own phone and video services more attractive. The Internet Association will likely argue that ISPs have no right to discriminate between different types of data.
  • Sales tax: Lawmakers have been confounded by the explosion of Internet sales and how to tax them. Amazon (and its customers) have benefitted from some antiquated tax code language requiring a business to have a “physical presence” in a state in order for that state to demand the collection of sales tax. This loophole will be closed. What legislation will replace it, and what will it mean for businesses like Amazon and eBay? Billions are tied to the answer to these questions, and the Internet Association will likely do whatever they can to keep a competitive advantage over brick and mortar retail.
  • Privacy: Facebook and Google are data-hungry advertising businesses hell-bent on collecting personal information about their users. Both have fallen afoul of privacy laws around the world. The Internet Association will likely fight to “modernize” privacy legislation. Expect “modernization” to mean “less privacy.”
  • Copyright: Hollywood has a massive Washington lobbying presence that steers U.S. copyright law and enforcement, as well as America’s foreign trade policy. Hollywood, along with the video game, publishing and software industries, have been fighting tooth and nail against the open Internet through copyright. The Internet Association can be expected to fight back and send politicians the message that dot-coms are major industries worth protecting too, with big coffers for campaign donations to boot.

Follow Jesse Brown on Twitter @JesseBrown