September 23, 2012
Another lobbying group hit Washington, D.C. on Wednesday. But think again before you start screaming that it’s just another lobby representing the 1%.
The Internet Association, backed by behemoths Amazon, Google, Facebook and others — 14 groups in all — is focused on internet freedom — something that’s easy in principle and hard when it comes to details.
As a yardstick of what this group’s philosophy is, its president said that had the group been around earlier this year, it would have lobbied against the Stop Online Piracy Act. Among other things, the measure would have required ISPs to prevent Americans from visiting piracy blacklisted sites by altering the system known as DNS that turns site names like Google.com into IP addresses such as 188.8.131.52. Instead, for the blacklisted sites, ISPs would have to lie to their customers and tell their browsers that the site doesn’t exist.
The SOPA legislation — which was heavily backed by the Recording Industry Association of America and Hollywood’s lobbying arm, the Motion Picture Association of America — was among the main reasons for the association’s founding. House hearings on the debate, meanwhile, pitted the MPAA against Google. Lawmakers appeared more concerned about Google linking to pirated material than they were about the ramifications of granting the government the power to remove that content.
Giving the Justice Department the power to order internet service providers like Comcast and AT&T to block their users from visiting blacklisted sites would be unprecedented in the United States, though it’s a common tactic used in countries like Syria, Iran and China to clamp down on political dissent and adult content.