The trade group representing Silicon Valley’s biggest companies will disband, even as tech enters a new era of intense regulatory scrutiny in the nation’s capital.
The Internet Association has fought for tech’s interests in Washington for the last nine years, lobbying lawmakers to advance the combined interests of Facebook, Amazon, Google, Airbnb, Uber, Twitter, eBay, Spotify, Zillow and many more of the most recognizable names in tech, from the largest companies on down. Politico first reported that the group would close up shop.
“Our industry has undergone tremendous growth and change since the Internet Association was formed almost 10 years ago, and in line with this evolution, the Board has made the difficult decision to close the organization at the end of this year,” the group wrote in a published statement. “… IA has made great progress on its mission to foster innovation, promote economic growth, and empower people through a free and open internet.”
In recent years, some of the Internet Association’s members have come into direct conflict on policy issues. That rift appears to be widening on defining topics, even among the group’s biggest members. While the IA’s stated position defends keeping Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act intact as it stands now, IA member Meta (now parent company of Facebook) recently told lawmakers that it’s open to changing the law in order to “earn some of our Section 230 protections.”
The group represents its members on issues like AI, broadband, content moderation and privacy, but conspicuously stayed out of the antitrust debate — the most relevant, consequential policy conversation in the industry’s recent history. With lawmakers gearing up to impose new regulations on tech companies, antitrust will continue to eclipse most other policy concerns that affect both major players in tech and the smaller companies that point to concerns around their market dominance.
Yelp, which joined the Internet Association in 2014, left previously due to differences with the group. “This org could’ve saved itself years ago by kicking out everyone with a market cap greater than $500b (ie GAFA),: Yelp Senior Public Policy VP Luther Lowe tweeted. “I made this suggestion to the leadership a few years ago, but it was shot down, so we quit.”
Yelp has testified before Congress on antitrust issues, arguing that Google, previously a fellow IA member, is a monopoly that unfairly gives search preference to its own products.
Last year, longtime IA president Michael Beckerman left to join TikTok as the company’s head of public policy in the Americas. Microsoft and Uber both left the group last month, signaling IA’s waning usefulness in the current tech policy landscape.