Just as most corporations lobby members of Congress, to enact laws which favor their businesses, many online businesses do the same. While unfortunate, lobby dollars do get the attention of lawmakers, and they surely will sit down to listen when large campaign contributions are there to be had. It’s no surprise that Google lobbies Congress and other branches/agencies of government. After all, the US Supreme Court did rule that corporations are entitled to free speech too.
Over the course of 2012, Google has spent nearly twice as much money on lobbying then they did in 2011. Internet regulatory threats impact many online businesses, but few have the funds to allocate a significant amount of money to get their way. But what would happen if you combined Google’s lobbying efforts with those of other online heavyweights such as Amazon, eBay, Yahoo and even Facebook? You would have the new Washington D.C. based lobbying group named “The Internet Association.”
Last month (September of 2012), Google and many heavyweights officially launched The Internet Association to lobby government on issues that impact their daily operations. On The Internet Association website, they claim to represent a unified voice of the internet economy. Sadly, small businesses are not invited to join their elite group. Nor does their website actually provide any specifics with how they intend to lobby government. But considering no small businesses are permitted a seat at their table, it would be safe to assume that their unified message would greatly differ from the many small business owners that are coping with one devastating algorithm update after another from Google.
According to The Internet Association’s platform message, they state the following:
The Internet Association also supports policies that recognize the diversity and value of the business models used by various players in the Internet ecosystem.
The statement above is quite powerful and leads many to believe that these organizations want to protect business models which have already resulted in formal inquiries by the FTC. Considering the recent algorithm changes at Google, it is obvious that Google’s business model is becoming one that is void of organic listings and the choice that diversity gives consumers.
While the theory of collective lobbying is not new, it certainly gives one the appearance that major online corporations are joining forces to work in tandem to pass policies which benefit only them. After all, Google is not going to spend lobbying money that results in small businesses making more money. Lobbying, to many corporations, is meant to protect their existing income and to pass legislation that allows such businesses to operate more freely to increase their profits.
Although many people consider the FTC Google’s lap dog, the stunning formation of The Internet Association should push the FTC’s anti-trust investigation of Google into high gear. Collusion of the web’s largest corporations, behind closed doors, is not in the best interest of consumers or small businesses. Such a cartel has the potential to amass a significant amount of lobbying dollars which may further erode the confidence that people have in their government and of the agencies that are charged with the responsibilities of protecting consumer choice and a fair marketplace for all businesses.