By Brendan Sasso - 09/19/12 09:00 AM EDT
“A free and innovative Internet is vital to our nation’s economic growth,” Michael Beckerman, the association's CEO, said in a statement. “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.”
There are already several lobbying groups in Washington that work on technology issues. Associations such as TechAmerica, the Information Technology Industry Council and the Consumer Electronics Association have been representing Internet companies for years.
But those groups also represent wireless carriers, software developers and device makers — industries sometimes at odds with the Web companies over policy and legislation.
The Internet Association is made up of only companies that focus on online services.
“We’ve never really had a unified, consensus voice for Internet issues,” Beckerman said in an interview with The Hill in July when the companies first announced their plan to form a new lobbying group.
He said the contentious debate earlier this year over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was a “wakeup call” that prompted Internet companies to join forces.
Supporters of the bill said it was necessary to combat online copyright infringement, but critics claimed it would force search engines and other websites to police the Internet for links to infringing content.
Some policymakers have also pushed for tougher regulation of online privacy—a move that could hurt websites that depend on revenue from targeted advertising.