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E-Commerce Lobby Formed

A variety of e-commerce companies and trade associations, including eBay and Orbitz, have teamed up to create a new lobbying group called NetChoice, aimed at "defending online businesses against efforts to stifle Internet-based competition with protectionist legislation or regulation."

The group formally launched in Washington, DC today with endorsements from Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) and Rep. Jerry Weller (R-IL).

NetChoice said its members believe consumers -- not elected officials or bureaucrats -- should determine who are the winners and who are the losers in the e-commerce marketplace.

The group said its founding companies and associations include: Association for Competitive Technology; BizLand Inc.; eBay; Electronic Commerce Association; Electronic Retailers Association; eRealty.com; GCEMarket; Information Technology Association of America; NetClerk; Network Steel Distribution; OnlineMetals.com; Orbitz; Shardan International Inc. and Weblens.net.

NetChoice has no executive director as yet. A spokesman told InternetNews.com that the group is being led by a team of three or four reps from the charter associations and companies, and they hope to formulate an executive structure in the weeks to come.

"Brick and mortar remains an essential part of the marketing mix of retailing, but e-retail is an important channel of choice, and should not be hobbled by anti-competitive acts," said Lisa Myers, president of the Electronic Retailing Association.

"As we move forward in this digital revolution, discrimination and prejudice towards online commerce must be fought at every level," said Tod Cohen, director of government affairs for eBay. "Old Economy 'intermediaries' should not be permitted to use protectionist measures to maintain their dominant positions in what should be open markets, particularly at the expense of Internet users' pocketbooks."

Just what are the threats to e-commerce? Spokesman Brian Lott said that although there is no particular bogeyman out there for e-commerce interests, "it's not unlike the time when the automobile industry was facing threats from the horse and buggy makers."

The NetChoice Web site lists a variety of articles on perceived dangers, including a Washington Post article about Internet based, self-pack moving companies drawing the ire of traditional movers. There's also a piece called "The Revenge of the Disintermediated: How the Middleman is Fighting E-Commerce and Hurting Consumers" from the Progressive Policy Institute, which estimates that American consumers "pay a minimum of $15 billion annually more for goods and services as a result of e-commerce protectionism."



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