“Our industry has seen tremendous growth and change since the Internet Association was founded nearly 10 years ago, and in line with this evolution, the Board of Directors has made the difficult decision to close the organization at the end of this year,” he said. the organization in a statement. a statement on Wednesday. It added, “IA has made great strides in its mission to foster innovation, foster economic growth and empower people through a free and open internet.”
IA, a nine-year-old group that once called itself “the unified voice of the Internet economy,” was previously a powerhouse in Washington even as member companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon fell out of favor on both sides of the aisle. The trade group held an awards ceremony at Union Station in 2019 that featured appearances from both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and then-Trump adviser Ivanka Trump.
In a controversial moment, IA struck the deal with lawmakers that led to the online sex trafficking bill known as FOSTA-SESTA, one of the few times Congress has seriously regulated the Internet industry since the 1990s.
But in recent months, IA has laid off staff and faced tensions among its powerful board members, a dynamic that has reflected the sector’s fragmentation in policy debates.
The group has been plagued by infighting between the big tech companies — Google, Amazon and Facebook — and the smaller tech companies, many of which have pushed for antitrust actions against the behemoths. Due to its diverse membership, IA decided early on to stay out of the antitrust battles, even as those became the main threats to the largest tech companies.
The group’s absence from the antitrust debate was especially frustrating for Google and Amazon, two of its highest-paying members, forcing them to seriously consider cutting back on the amount they gave IA, two people familiar with the July discussions told me. to POLITICO.
Some critics of the big business also complained about IA’s silence on the matter, saying it helped seal its demise.
“This organization could have saved itself years ago by kicking out anyone with a market cap of more than $500 billion (i.e. GAFA),” Yelp’s senior vice president of public policy tweeted, Luther Lowe, with a common industry acronym for Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon. “I put this proposal in the lead a few years ago, but it got shot, so we stopped.”