Internet Association’s New Website Lets Users Comment on Bills
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BY LORENZO FRANCESCHI-BICCHIERAI
JUL 15, 2013
The Internet Association, the lobbying conglomerate of big tech companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook, has launched a new website that allows users to comment on proposed bills.
The association unveiled its redesigned website on Monday, and it hopes its new, interactive features will give citizens a way to speak up. “We want this to be a two way conversation, it needs to be a dialogue,” Nika Nour, the Internet Association’s digital director, told Mashable.
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In the “Take Action” section of the website, under “Leave Your Mark,” the association plans to upload bills, declarations and other context documents for netizens to peruse and, most importantly, interact with. After logging in, a user can comment on the bill in general, and even make line edits.
Nour said the idea is to give the lobbyist at the Internet Association a chance to approach a bill’s author — or other members of Congress — and show them people’s feedback.
In a way, this process is reminiscent of Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren’s (D-Calif.) work on the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act reform law called Aaron’s Law, in memory of the late Aaron Swartz. When she announced the bill, Lofgren posted it on Reddit and asked the community for improvements.
There is clearly no way to predict the effectiveness of this process. Will lawmakers pay attention to what citizens say? Will they actually read their edits on their pieces of legislation? Will lawmakers pay attention to what citizens say? Will they actually read their edits on their pieces of legislation?
In any case, it’s a good precedent for other lobbying groups and gives voters a new way to engage in the political process.
The website also strives to be a one-stop resource for voters interested in issues the Internet Association is working on.
In the site’s “Policies” section, the group lists cards showcasing the most important topics its represented companies are interested on: Internet freedom, privacy, patent reform, immigration reform and more.
These sort of legislative cheat-sheets are made to help both voters as well as Congress staff.
“Our goal here is to find ways to explain the issues to the user community in bite sized pieces so that it’s easy to understand, but also be a good source for congressional staffers to get the source of information for the issues, and take it back to their boss in an easy to digest way,” Nour said.
The website has been in the works for months, but it’s not an answer to the backlash Internet companies have suffered in the wake of leaks exposing top secret NSA surveillance programs, Nour added.
After the revelations, Google, Facebook and other tech companies stepped forward to deny participation in such programs.
Only time will tell if thousands of Gmail or Facebook users will lose trust these companies as a result of revelations brought forth by Edward Snowden. In the meantime, netizens now have another way of letting Congress hear their voices.
Image courtesy of Jon Worth, screenshot courtesy of The Internet Association
TOPICS: AMAZON, CONGRESS, FACEBOOK, POLITICS, THE INTERNET ASSOCIATION, U.S., US & WORLD