It's not too often you see the likes of Google, eBay, Facebook and Amazon team up for a common cause. But the technology, social media and e-commerce titans have something to rally around: the future of the Internet.
These and other major Internet companies are joining forces to launch the Internet Association, which describes itself as the unified voice of the Internet economy.
When it launches in September, the group will work to represent the interests of America's leading Internet companies and their global community of users by lobbying for an open, innovative and free Internet.
We caught up with Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence, to get his take on the potentially powerful new lobbying group. He told us this is a smart move that makes sense for Google, Amazon and other companies involved.
"An 'association' will give their efforts to 'educate' lawmakers more credibility," Sterling said. "It will also allow them to pool resources so it will be more cost-effective as well."
Issues like the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, along with the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), may have ultimately spurred the birth of the Internet Association. In January, Wikipedia, Reddit, WordPress and Mozilla shut down at least in part, and Google and Facebook join in the protest against SOPA.
As a result of so many popular Internet sites going dark for 24 hours, four of the co-sponsors of SOPA's Senate version, PIPA, withdrew their support.
Voice of the Internet
The Internet Association isn't wasting any time getting its priorities in order. The group just hired Michael Beckerman as its first president and CEO. From Internet Association headquarters in Washington, D.C., Beckerman will lead the group's efforts to advance public policy solutions that forward its agenda.
"The Internet is the greatest engine for economic growth and prosperity the world has ever known. The Internet must have a voice in Washington," Beckerman said.
Beckerman went on to say that the Internet isn't just Silicon Valley anymore, the Internet has moved to Main Street. He said the Internet Association's priority is to ensure that elected leaders in Washington understand the profound impacts of the Internet and Internet companies on jobs, economic growth and freedom.
Beckerman's Hill Cred
Beckerman has a long record of Internet policy experience. He most recently served as deputy staff director to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees the nation's telecommunications and Internet policy.
Beckerman is also a longtime adviser to committee Chairman Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., previously serving as his chief policy adviser. Beckerman spent more than 12 years in increasingly senior positions on Capitol Hill.
"No one can predict what innovations will happen next. But we do know that the Internet's decentralized and open model is what has enabled its unprecedented growth and innovation," Beckerman said. "We must guard against misguided attempts to handcuff this incredible source of job creation, freedom and creativity."