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Web giants bag former US gov advisor to head up lobbying group

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Tech heavyweights have clubbed together to fight Washington policies they don't like with the launch of a new lobbying group called the Internet Association, which is calling itself the "unified voice of the internet economy".

The group's website is sparse and the only announcement it's made so far is that Michael Beckerman, a former advisor to the chairman of the US House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce Committee, will act as its first president and CEO.

The association said that it would release more information about the group, including a full list of the companies involved, in September when it formally launches. But sources whispered to Reuters, AFP and others that Google, Facebook, eBay and Amazon were among the firms involved.

"The newly-formed Internet Association is comprised of some of the world’s most visible internet companies and will be headquartered in Washington DC. Beckerman will lead the Internet Association’s efforts to advance public policy solutions that strengthen and protect an open, innovative and free internet," the group said in a canned statement.

As governments turn their legislative eye to the internet, web firms are becoming more involved in lobbying them to make sure the net stays the way they want it. Facebook, eBay and Amazon have all spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on lobbying various government bodies, while Google spends millions.

Issues like online privacy, piracy, taxes and advertising all have big impacts on internet companies and the big boys aren't known for being shy about making their views clear. The anti-SOPA protest is perhaps the most well-known example, when Google and Wikipedia joined smaller sites in "blacking out" their websites or noting their opposition to the bills on their home pages for 24 hours. ®

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