Facebook, Google, Amazon join forces in DC lobby

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.

The lobbying shop, with four staff members and plans to hire more, has 14 members that include IAC, LinkedIn and Zynga. Absent from the roster are Microsoft and Apple — rivals to Google, in particular, in mobile software and advertising.

The trade association, the first for the Web industry, was created in response to last year’s successful fight against anti-piracy legislation that the firms feared would block or punish their sites for containing pirated movies, books and songs. The bills, known as the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act, were derailed after online protests. The bills, supported by some authors and Hollywood, are expected to be revived as Congress grapples with ways to prevent online content theft.

“SOPA and PIPA came almost out of nowhere and would have had a devastating impact,” said Beckerman, former deputy staff director of the House Energy & Commerce Committee.

The lobbying group comes as Silicon Valley giants bolster their lobbying budgets and expand offices in Washington.

Google has already spent nearly $9 million on lobbying in the first two quarters of 2012, compared to $3.5 million during the comparable period last year. Facebook has spent $1.6 million in first two quarters of this year compared to $550,000 last year.

Related:
Web goes dark over SOPA

Facebook triples lobbying, targets White House

In Silicon Valley, fast firms and slow regulators

Cecilia Kang is a staff writer covering the business of media and entertainment.
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