|EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2858 - July 30, 2012 - ISSN 1539-5065 1 of 5|
Ecommerce heavyweights Amazon and eBay have joined with other prominent tech firms to form a new advocacy group to press their policy agenda before policymakers and members of Congress.
Named simply the Internet Association, the group bills itself as "the nation's first trade association representing the interests of the Internet economy and America's leading Internet companies."
In addition to Amazon and eBay, the Internet Association also counts Google and Facebook as inaugural members, according to a source familiar with the organization.
The group is planning a formal launch in September, when lawmakers return to Washington after their August recess. The source indicated that the group intends to offer a mission statement outlining the group's policy priorities in the coming weeks.
But even in the absence of a formal articulation of an agenda, the Internet Association's member companies have aligned on a number of legislative and regulatory issues that could shed light on where the group will focus its efforts. Perhaps at the top of that list is network neutrality, the notion that Internet service providers should be prohibited from blocking or slowing access to lawful content or applications.
Although the Internet Association is "not really focusing on the net neutrality debate right now," the source said, it will work to "preserve a free and open Internet" and uphold the decentralized model of Internet governance. Google, more than any other of the known members of the group, has been a vocal participant in the net neutrality discussion, advocating in support of the issue before members of Congress and the Federal Communications Commission.
The issue of Internet control has also emerged as a subject of foreign policy. Later this year, members of the United Nations are slated to vote on a controversial proposal that would empower the organization's telecommunications arm to oversee aspects of the global Internet, a move that U.S. officials and many tech companies have denounced as a threat to the current model of Internet governance and a gateway to online censorship.
Google has also been a prominent voice in the ongoing discussion over Internet freedom and censorship abroad, most memorably engaging in a standoff with Chinese authorities over that country's restrictions on certain online content.
One area of potential discord among the members arises in the area of ecommerce policy. Amazon and eBay have taken camp on opposite sides of the contentious debate concerning online sales taxation, respectively supporting and opposing legislative proposals to authorize states to require out-of-state sellers to remit sales taxes.
Amazon is advocating for a national framework to replace the patchwork of state measures to collect the tax, while eBay has argued that such a law would pose an excessive burden on small sellers. That fissure suggests that the Internet Association might take the issue of ecommerce taxes off the table.
About the Author
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About the author:
Kenneth Corbin is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C. He has written on politics, technology and other subjects since 2007, most recently as the Washington correspondent for InternetNews.com, covering Congress, the White House, the FCC and other regulatory affairs. He can be found on LinkedIn here.
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