Internet Association — which lobbies on behalf of top tech companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Airbnb and Uber — is setting up a Seattle outpost.
Internet Association is anchored in Washington, D.C., with offices in Albany, N.Y., and Sacramento, Calif. The Seattle office will focus on issues at the state and local level throughout the Northwest, which can set the tone for regulations of internet companies across the country. On the national level, the group advocates for its members on issues like net neutrality and immigration reform.
Rose Feliciano, a former lobbyist for Seattle City Light, is establishing the Seattle office. Internet Association isn’t planning to hire additional staff in Seattle immediately but that may change down the line.
“I think having a good strong voice for the industry will be really important in order to make sure that we’re setting the table so we can have these businesses grow and thrive here,” Feliciano said.
The Seattle office will cover the broader Northwest, stretching out to Wyoming, the Dakotas, and Nebraska. Feliciano is busy getting up to speed on hot issues for internet companies in the region, like privacy protections and sharing economy regulations. In Washington state, elected officials are exercising their authority in ways that could directly impact many of Internet Association’s members.
The Seattle City Council just passed a new tax on Airbnb hosts and is considering a broader set of regulations to govern short-term rentals. Washington state is suing Uber over a major data breach and coverup. Plus, Seattle passed a landmark law that allows drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft to unionize.
“This is all new territory for policymakers so having someone to be able to talk to, and someone to be able to call, is really important and that’s certainly what I’m hoping to bring,” Feliciano said.
Internet Association avoids getting involved in issues that are singular to one or two member companies but does try to set the agenda on broader topics, like the sharing economy.
“What IA is trying to do is to have policies set so that the next Amazon has a place where it can thrive and grow,” Feliciano said. “Hopefully, it will be somewhere in our neck of the woods.”