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Facebook and Google launch lobbying group, The Internet Association (dailydot.com)
90 points by curthopkins 575 days ago | comments


tokenadult 575 days ago | link

It would be refreshing if this industry group took a firm stand against the Great Firewall of China and other national government efforts to censor the Internet. I wonder if that is part of their agenda, as is implied by the main page headings?

I tried to look up the privacy platform page, but got a

502 Bad Gateway

error just now. They evidently still have both reliability and usability issues to fix on the association's own website before they go out to make the world a better place.

AFTER EDIT:

Oh, okay, when I go to the Protecting Internet Freedom page

http://internetassociation.org/policy-platform/protecting-in...

I see a statement that the association supports

"policies that protect and promote Internet freedom – information should flow freely across national borders, uninhibited by tariffs, regulations and government censorship that are fundamentally inconsistent with the transnational, free and decentralized nature of the Internet. To preserve the Internet’s role as a conduit for free expression, Internet intermediaries must not be held liable for the speech and activity of Internet users."

Opposing censorship is one of my causes, so so far, so good.

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enraged_camel 575 days ago | link

>> information should flow freely across national borders, uninhibited by tariffs, regulations and government censorship

Funny that they qualify it as government censorship. Because everyone knows that Facebook will censor the crap out of anything they find objectionable. Just a week ago they banned a cartoon of Adam and Eve because it contained nipples. http://tinyurl.com/d5tqnhk

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aethr 575 days ago | link

It isn't a violation of free speech for a private publisher or forum to deny you publishing rights on their platform.

Facebook is a private playground. They are allowed complete discretion over what they allow and don't allow on their private network, and this isn't a problem because you can stop using it at any time.

It is much harder to "stop using" your country of citizenship, which is why many people feel that governments should be held to a much higher standard of openness, accountability and freedom.

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enraged_camel 575 days ago | link

That's true from a legal standpoint, but it's still a double standard in principles.

edit: again, not sure why people are downvoting without explaining why.

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dantheman 575 days ago | link

I want you to be able to say whatever you'd like no matter how horrible without fear of government censorship; however, I will not let you use my printing press, blog, etc to do it.

There is nothing inconsistent with this.

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enraged_camel 575 days ago | link

>>I want you to be able to say whatever you'd like no matter how horrible without fear of government censorship; however, I will not let you use my printing press, blog, etc to do it.

That sounds too much like the number one cited reason against net neutrality: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_neutrality#Arguments_ag...

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aethr 575 days ago | link

I disagree. Should the New York Times leave their front door open and allow anyone to walk in off the street and write an un-vetted opinion piece and place it on the front page of tomorrow's paper? That would be ridiculous.

I don't see how you could then turn around and claim that NYT supporting freedom of speech is in any way a double standard. They aren't preventing you from creating your own paper, in which you can say whatever you like. When the government limits your speech, you don't have that option.

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saraid216 574 days ago | link

> Should the New York Times leave their front door open and allow anyone to walk in off the street and write an un-vetted opinion piece and place it on the front page of tomorrow's paper?

To elaborate, freedom of speech actually does mean the freedom to speak. If you're trying to speak and some asshole is yelling over you, you're being shut down.

> When the government limits your speech, you don't have that option.

More specifically, it's the government's job to protect that speech. When the government doesn't do that, it's nearly as egregious as when it actively censors speech. For instance, if you sent thugs around to threaten your critics, it's the government's job to stop that. There are a lot of angles by which they can justify doing so, and this is a relatively unused one (esp. because it's so abstract), but it's there.

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est 575 days ago | link

> a firm stand against the Great Firewall of China

GFW could censor stuff using QoS discrimination. Un-welcome sites has really bad connection. How do you deal with that?

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mtgx 575 days ago | link

Exactly. I remember thinking when all of the big tech companies were asked by the Indian Government to give them access to some data or censor some posts (don't remember the details). But they pretty much all agreed, because they were too afraid they'd be the only company refusing. But if they all joined together to oppose it, I don't think there's much the Government could've done.

Same thing with China. Google suffered and still suffers the consequences of going against their government then. They should've allied with other companies first before deciding to pull out of China.

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batgaijin 575 days ago | link

Oh that's a great quote, I really hope they stand behind it. As long as they are pushing for a strengthened version of the DMCA safe harbor act, more power to them.

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tsycho 575 days ago | link

It's not just Facebook and Google.

"The IA’s founding membership consists of Google, Facebook, eBay, Rackspace, Zynga, IAC, TripAdvisor, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Monster Worldwide, salesforce.com, AOL, and Expedia."

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sswezey 575 days ago | link

and Amazon, the writer seemed to have missed that one...

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notatoad 575 days ago | link

So what big name internet companies aren't a part of this? I notice there's no microsoft, anybody else?

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mayneack 575 days ago | link

Apple is missing because they're usually on both sides of everything as a media provider

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Achshar 575 days ago | link

Wikimedia? Considering they were very vocal about SOPA, I wonder why they are not a part of this.

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mtgx 575 days ago | link

I guess Microsoft doens't think of itself as an "Internet company", and they've often been on the other side of bills such as SOPA, etc, at least before the backlash.

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fruchtose 575 days ago | link

It makes sense if you consider where their main revenues come from: Windows and Office, desktop products. Windows 8 features tighter integration with Internet services, but by and large they are firmly rooted in the idea that your desktop should be doing computation locally. The minute Microsoft calls itself an Internet company is the day that desktop software goes the way of the dinosaur.

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mindstab 575 days ago | link

twitter

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yread 575 days ago | link

Apple?

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elic 575 days ago | link

Netflix

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murki 575 days ago | link

neither is Amazon

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mindstab 575 days ago | link

if you look at the actual IA website you'll see amazon is there :)

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mayneack 575 days ago | link

Nothing really specific yet on their platform regarding patent law. I'm pretty curious where they'll come out on that.

http://internetassociation.org/policy-platform/fostering-inn...

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tobylane 575 days ago | link

It's more of a 'stop our users words making us suable' rather than 'don't curtail our users rights, especially free speech' effort, but I can't think of any serious differences. There will be some.

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nickpinkston 575 days ago | link

I'm guessing data portability and privacy stuff can be reframed as stealing IP, anti-business, etc.

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mayneack 575 days ago | link

This website is hard to look at. It feels like someone was just throwing cool features together without any sort of continuity.

http://internetassociation.org/

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freehunter 575 days ago | link

I really do like the double scroll bar and the fact that even with the second scroll bar scrolled all the way up, the top of the blog is still cut off. Chrome, Windows 7. Overlapping elements as well as broken tumblr links. It's really quite embarrassing for such big names behind it.

http://i.imgur.com/KRokj.png

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insickness 575 days ago | link

Those random little dots floating around make it difficult to read the text.

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luke_s 575 days ago | link

Actually, they feel like flies or insects crawling all over the page. Its just something about the way they move. Not a good look!

Also from a design perspective they are really bad. You want people to be reading the text, not focusing on the dots.

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hereonbusiness 574 days ago | link

So essentially they let themselves get blackmailed by the US government. Campaign donations all around!

I think that this was the actual goal of legislation like SOPA and PIPA, make the "internet industry" pay up by threatening to threaten their business model. It doesn't seem likely to me that they would really risk seriously damaging a largely US based multi-billion dollar industry, but Google, Facebook and Co. decided to play it safe.

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PuerkitoBio 575 days ago | link

There is a need for such lobbying, but it should be led by individuals as citizens (an international asociation), not by companies with varying degrees of interests.

Still, it's better than nothing (no godaddy in the association, I see!). I do believe Google mostly fights for a free, uncensored web, though once a conflict arises, between shareholders and freedom, as with any company, shareholders always win.

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tatsuke95 575 days ago | link

>"There is a need for such lobbying, but it should be led by individuals as citizens"

Agreed. Unfortunately, getting people to take uniform political action on anything is difficult, whereas companies can have a political mandate (and the money to support it).

P.S. If anyone wants to to learn a little bit about the lobbying industry, check out Turkmeniscam by Ken Silverstein. It's a short read, but eye-opening.

http://www.amazon.com/Turkmeniscam-Washington-Lobbyists-Stal...

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icebraining 575 days ago | link

Re: Google shareholders, the founders still control >50% of the votes.

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languagehacker 575 days ago | link

It's good to see Facebook and Google working together on something positive. Probably going to end up doing more lobbying than advocacy. The same thing happened to AARP, so that's just an inevitably of American advocacy groups, I think.

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kmfrk 575 days ago | link

As long as they aren't lobbying against the FTC and privacy regulation, it sounds great.

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Flam 575 days ago | link

While this does seem like a generally great initiative and idea, I can't help but feel like WW3 or WW4 will be fought between tech companies. Hopefully this is much less prediction and more science fiction plot.

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asax 575 days ago | link

This is a good thing, right?

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jpdoctor 575 days ago | link

> This is a good thing, right?

Yes. Lobbyist = legitimate bribery, and we need somebody bribing congressmen to start voting our way on patents and copyright (among other things.)

Of course, they'll be bribed to vote against small company startups getting in the face of goog and fb, so it's a double-edged sword.

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logn 575 days ago | link

Probably for a few decades until these companies lose competitiveness and regain it through legislation.

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prawks 575 days ago | link

I hadn't thought about this, but it's a great point. They certainly have the money to influence politics in many ways, not all of which may be good.

While this may be a step forward in the fight against SOPA-style bills, this is a huge step backwards in the fight to take money out of politics.

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mayneack 575 days ago | link

It's certainly good in the "the enemy of our enemy is our friend" sense. Like other commenters have stated, it's also probably actually good in the short term.

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andrewcooke 575 days ago | link

it depends whether you care about the local or global maximum.

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Fando 575 days ago | link

Hallelujah!

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