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In The Lobby

Dotcoms are waiting just like everybody else.

There's the tobacco lobby and the environmental lobby. Now how about the Internet lobby? The Web world is trying to catch up with other big-money interests in the political world. Hobnobbing with politicians and donating to campaigns aren't activities generally associated with the informal image of Net culture, but business is business and politics is business, too.

TechNet is one of the industry's most advanced lobbying groups. Members hail from such companies as Cisco Systems, Microsoft, Intel and 3Com, and share the goal of building "bipartisan support for policies that strengthen America's leadership of the New Economy." Specifically, TechNet seeks permanent normal trade relations with China, "sound" business immigration policies and increased federal investment in research.

The United States Internet Council promotes an even more Web-specific agenda. Included in their statement of principles: "Advanced technologies that empower people to protect themselves, including encryption, should be available on the marketplace without government controls, restrictions or technical mandates."

Of course, the interests of the Microsofts of the world won't always coincide with the needs of smaller netpreneurs, so maybe your voice needs to be heard. Interested in representation? TechNet and USIC aren't cheap. Annual TechNet dues for companies with revenues under $25 million are $3,000. Currently, the best bet for smaller tech businesses may be in joining forces with established lobbying groups. National Small Business United, for example, takes a position against taxation of the Web alongside more traditional brick-and-mortar issues.

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This article was originally published in the October 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: In The Lobby.

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