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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