Big Tech’s most vocal proponent group is breaking up the band for good. The Internet Association (IA), a lobbying group that represents Silicon Valley in Washington, is dissolving itself. The IA gave no definitive reason for the group’s discontinuation.
“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 company wrote on its website. The remainder of the notice simply thanks the team for its efforts over the past decade.
Kind of an anticlimactic goodbye, if you ask us. The motivation for this seeming secrecy could be that the reasons are a bit embarrassing for the IA. As Politico notes, the IA lost two major members — Uber and Microsoft — just about a month ago. Those losses are significant in terms of both optics and financial support.
Fighting for the tech gods — The Internet Association has been a major player in the federal government’s policy-making decisions since its founding in 2012. Google, Amazon, Facebook, and eBay all signed onto the coalition right away, with other big companies like Netflix, Microsoft, and PayPal opting in later.
The IA has spent its nine years of existence fighting for (and against) various causes in both local and federal governments. Net neutrality was one of the IA’s more notable causes; in 2014 it fought back against what it considered to be lax net neutrality propositions. The IA also played a significant role in arranging the law that would later become FOSTA-SESTA.
The future of lobbying — Whether the IA’s dissolution is financial in nature or not is mostly unremarkable. The organization was always fated to die off at some point. Its mission just wasn’t sustainable. The internet changes at a breakneck pace, and each individual company’s interests evolve rapidly right along with it.
At a certain point, it’s every man for himself. These tech companies are now far too large and influential for a single organization to represent all of their shared interests. When Facebook is staring down extreme regulatory changes of its own, for example, it’s going to devote resources to that lobbying, rather than that of the IA.
The IA’s job — protecting the internet’s best interests — has become far too complex. The federal government has been floating the idea of creating a regulatory group of its own in the near future, which would only serve to further antiquate the IA.