A who's-who of Internet companies -- Google, Amazon and Facebook, among them -- are putting some of their advocacy firepower into a new trade group called The Internet Association.
The group, which the Alley had a first look at over the summer, officially launches today, and it's backed by some of the biggest Internet companies around. The full list of members also includes: eBay, AOL, Expedia, IAC, LinkedIn, Monster Worldwide, Rackspace, salesforce.com, TripAdvisor, Yahoo!, and Zynga.
Michael Beckerman, the group's president, tells the Alley that "the discussion to get this started happened prior to SOPA and PIPA, but obviously when that came up, it really highlighted the need for a trade association focusing on Internet issues and fighting for the Internet economy."
Beckerman, who served as the deputy staff director at the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said the group has a three-plank platform focused on "protecting Internet freedom, fostering innovation and economic growth and empowering users."
When asked whether the group would start a PAC, Beckerman dodged the question saying, "we'll be involved in other areas."
The association will utilize internal lobbyists and consultants to monitor the Hill, including cyber security legislation. They plan to reach out to lawmakers and regulators "about how the Internet and these Internet companies impact the global economy and here at home."
Beckerman said the group doesn't have a position on the proposed House STEM visa bill scheduled for a vote this week, or a proposed Senate STEM visa bill, but said it's "an important issue for all our members," adding that "we're supportive of any bill that's creating more STEM visas." The House version would eliminate the diversity visa program, while the Senate version would not.
Another former Hill staffer Betsy Barrett, who served as communications director for Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., is working for the association as its communications director.
And a heads up, job seekers: Beckerman says they're still hiring.