Top False Claims of the New Internet Association -- Part 2 of Internet as Oz Series

Unfortunately, the new Internet Association launched yesterday making several false claims.

Claim: "The Internet Association, the nation's first trade association representing the interests of the Internet economy, America's leading Internet companies and their vast community of users…"

Truth: This "first" claim is unsupportable; several different Internet groups have had similar purposes long before this Internet Association: The Internet Society; The Internet Engineering Task Force; Net Coalition;; The Open Internet Coalition; The Internet Defense League; The Internet Freedom Coalition; The Internet Alliance; The Internet Marketing Association; The Internet Commerce Association and The Internet Infrastructure Coalition.

Claim: The Internet Association represents "… America's leading Internet companies…"

Truth: This claim does not withstand scrutiny. Comparing the Association's 14 "America's leading" Internet companies to Comscore's Top 50 Web Properties in the US by audience, the Internet Association has only 9 of America's top 50 most-visited websites as members and does not have 4 of the top 10 most-visited web properties in the U.S.: Microsoft #2, Wikimedia #8, Apple #9, and Comcast NBCUniversal #10.

Claim: The Internet Association is "the unified voice of the Internet economy… representing the interests … of users."

Truth: This is another false claim. How can The Internet Association fairly represent itself as the "unified voice of the Internet economy," when it excludes for example: the oldest, most legitimate, multi-stakeholder Internet voices, like the Internet Society and the Internet Engineering Task Force; the many independent user or consumer organization voices; or the vast number of bona fide "main street" voices -- to name just a few of the many excluded voices?

How can this claim be credible while the Association also excludes the plethora of opposing voices, for example: un-conflicted voices for protecting user privacy, safety and security online; voices for promoting property rights and combating online piracy and counterfeiting; and voices who oppose net neutrality regulation?

Doesn't the Internet give everyone a voice? Doesn't "Internet freedom" mean an unlimited diversity of voices and views? Isn't a "unified Internet voice" an oxymoron?

Claim: "…representing… the vast community of [Internet] users…"

Truth: The interests of Internet users are not aligned with the commercial interests of the members of the Internet Association. Internet users want privacy from online tracking. Users, and their private information, are the product and currency that many Internet Association members leverage to fuel online advertising and fund free Internet content.

Internet Association members are misleading elected officials by implying that the economic and technological decisions of consumers to use their companies' products and services is an effective proxy for their political support and "vote" for the Internet Association's political and commercial agenda.

Just because ~1 percent of the global "Internet economy" signed misleading anti-SOPA petitions does not mean that the other 99% of global Internet users have signed on to, or are unified with, the Internet Association's political "platform."

The Internet Association's insinuation that "the Internet vote" is somehow monolithic and not diverse, and that the Internet Association somehow speaks for "the Internet" overall, is exceptionally deceptive, manipulative and self-serving.

Claim: "trade association representing the Internet economy…"

Truth: This organization is less like a traditional trade association and more akin to a political party. First, a trade association fairly represents the commercial interests of the trade associating, not the political interests of an ill-defined economic sector. Second, it oddly calls its association agenda, a "policy platform" (a political party term), and promotes non-commercial political goals like: "protecting Internet freedom, fostering innovation and economic growth, and empowering users."

Third, and most importantly, the first public political pronouncement of the Association was an op-ed entitled "The Internet Voter." That op-ed makes it clear that the Internet Association's focus will be less like a commercial trade association and more like a pro-piracy political movement, i.e. a de facto U.S. Pirate Party similar to other pirate political parties in Europe and around the world.

Here are relevant excerpts from "The Internet Voter," that belie this intent:

"…the strongest untapped political factor these days is rarely mentioned, despite representing a force central to the lives of nearly every American -- the Internet."

"The political awakening of the Internet voter happened earlier this year when an unprecedented effort to censor web content came dangerously close to becoming law. This threat to free expression awoke a sleeping giant, and on January 18, 2012, the Internet went dark. During the blackout, more than 10 million Americans and 100,000 websites participated in a day of online activism, engaging their elected representatives in direct democracy en mass for the first time."

"But who exactly were these Internet activists? The movement crossed party lines and united millions of liberals, conservatives, libertarians and independents. Much like the Internet itself, the protest was organic, bottom-up and decentralized. One thing is clear, they all passionately believe they have a vested interest and stake in the future of the Internet -- and they are right.

"The attempt to censor the Internet was a political wake-up call. …

"As we approach another presidential election, the gold standard of democracy around the world, our message to both parties and candidates is simple: The Internet is one of the greatest engines for economic growth, freedom and prosperity the world has ever known. The Internet Association, and millions of active users (and voters) stand ready to protect a free Internet and the innovation it fosters."

In sum, the Internet Association does not represent "the Internet" any more than the Internet is "unified." Here's a reality check. The Internet is global with over 2.3 billion users worldwide (~10% U.S.) in over 200 countries. It is comprised of literally thousands of different private and public networks, ~7.6 billion web pages, and ~75 million servers.

Just look at how many countries Google has censored from having free access to the recent controversial anti-Muslim video to see that the Internet is not "unified" as the Internet Association claims.

Appreciating that perception is political reality, the Internet Association wants to create the perception that their political supporters are the "unified" Internet and consequently that the Internet is "unified" behind their pro-piracy, anti-privacy, pro-net neutrality political agenda, which they know to be untrue.

What the Internet Association does have is one of the world's largest robo-email and robo-call advocacy lists and viral website networks to intimidate politicians by reminding them of how they were both willing and able to go nuclear to blow up legislation not of their liking, like they did in killing SOPA/PIPA with their "unified" "online activism" in January.


"Internet as Oz" Research Series

Part 1: "The Internet Association's Back Story"