Cecilia Kang of the Washington Post reports a new lobbying coalition has been put together by a number of Internet companies:
Internet titans Facebook, Google, Amazon and Yahoo on Wednesday will launch a new lobbying association to counter efforts by federal regulators to strap new rules to their industry.
The Internet Association, led by Capitol Hill veteran Michael Beckerman, aims to band together Silicon Valley’s biggest Internet firms on issues such as piracy and copyright, privacy and cybersecurity.
With tech issues increasingly receiving attention in D.C., The Washington Post‘s Cecilia Kang reports on some major tech players joining forces on the lobbying front:
Google, eBay, Amazon and Facebook are launching a lobbying group, The Internet Association, to try to raise their voice in Washington as federal officials focus their sights on their largely unregulated tech industry.
Leading the group will be Michael Beckerman, former deputy staff director of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and longtime adviser to Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich).
FCC Commissioner Meredith A. Baker has announced she will be stepping down from her post in order to take a job with Comcast as a lobbyist. Given Baker just four months ago voted to approve the merger of Comcast and NBC Universal, her announcement has predictably raised concerns among consumer groups, members of Congress, and reports, Baker is defending the move:
“I’m proud of my nearly eight years of government service, and especially my service as an FCC Commissioner under Chairman Genachowski’s leadership. Until late this spring, my plan was to seek renomination for a second term as Commissioner. That was true all through the winter during consideration of the Comcast/NBCUniversal transaction and in the months after it was completed.
“Not once in my entire tenure as a Commissioner had anyone at Comcast or NBCUniversal approached me about potential employment. When this opportunity became available in mid-April, I made a personal decision that I wanted to give it serious consideration.
Baker goes on to state that upon receiving the job offer from Comcast she “immediately sought counsel from the General Counsel of the FCC.” She also recused herself from any Comcast/NBC matters on April 18th. This was backed up by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.
Under current rules, Baker cannot lobby the FCC on Comcast’s behalf for two years, though she is allowed to lobby members of Congress.
When it comes to the increasingly lucrative realm of online advertising, there’s little doubt that Google dominates. And as the San Francisco Chronicle reports, that domination isn’t sitting well with a consumer group:
Consumer Watchdog, the Santa Monica group that’s proving a perpetual thorn in the side of Google Inc., plans to call on the Justice Department to launch an antitrust action against the search giant and seek remedies including a possible break up.
The consumer organization, which secured grants from the Rose Foundation of Oakland specifically to investigate Google’s privacy practices, plans to make the announcement at a press conference titled “The Antitrust Case Against Google” in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.
“We, as an organization, have concluded that there’s enough evidence on the table to warrant this, to go beyond the reactive steps that the regulatory agencies have followed up until now,” said John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog.
That’s not the only headache headed for the online giant. Yesterday, officials from 10 countries — including Germany, Canada, and France — sent a letter to Google expressing concerns over the company’s privacy efforts, specifically the botched February launch of Google Buzz, their entry into microblogging. From the letter (PDF):
[W]e are increasingly concerned that, too often, the privacy rights of the world’s citizens are being forgotten as Google rolls out new technological applications. We were disturbed by your recent rollout of the Google Buzz social networking application, which betrayed a disappointing disregard for fundamental privacy norms and laws. Moreover, this was not the first time you have failed to take adequate account of privacy considerations when launching new services.
The privacy problems associated with your initial global rollout of Google Buzz on February 9, 2010 were serious and ought to have been readily apparent to you.
The Google mantra has always been “Don’t be evil.” But as with any company, the bigger you are the more you are in the crosshairs. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that, Google has increased its federal lobbying spending by 57% in the first quarter of this year alone.