Ben Ramsey

Call for a National IT Advocacy Group

Each week, I receive a complimentary issue of eWeek in my mailbox. I receive complimentary issues of other magazines, which I usually promptly toss aside, but I never toss aside eWeek. I could make a nice advertising plug for eWeek right now, but I won’t. I’ll simply say this: I read it because of Jim Rapoza’s “Tech Directions” column.

Rapoza seems to have a lot of sense about what’s best for the IT industry. He encourages the use of OSS, and he’s not afraid to speak out about problems in the industry (sometimes related to Microsoft, SCO, etc.). For these things and others, I always find Rapoza’s column an interesting read. For the August 2nd issue of eWeek, this was no exception.

This week’s “Tech Directions” was a clear call for the formation of a national IT advocacy group to spearhead the industry and be its voice in Washington. Nothing of this sort exists at present, and so legislation, such as the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) (see also the Anti-DMCA Web site) and the Induce Act: (see also the Induce Act blawg and their post about Rapoza’s proposed IT advocacy group), gets passed without anyone in the public batting an eye.

There needs to be a voice for the industry, backed by industry money, and run by the industry. According to Rapoza, there are several groups seeking to do something of this sort, but there is no unified effort.

A unified effort sounds nice, but how can it exist in an industry that is so fragmented? The IT industry consists of extremely large super-companies (i.e. Microsoft, Sun, IBM) and very small companies and individuals. No doubt, the large companies have entire departments dedicated to lobbying Congress in order to advance their own corporate goals and agendas, but in the case of companies like Microsoft and Sun, those goals usually don’t match those of the other hundreds of thousands of individuals working in the industry.

There needs to be a group that is the voice for the rest of the industry, and as Rapoza suggests, if this group were to form, it would most likely be larger than any other lobbying force in Washington, since the IT industry itself is vastly huge, incorporating many different types of technologies.

How do we form such a group? I’m not exactly sure of that, but I do have an uncle that is the director of such an agency for state courts. I intend to contact him and find out how an organization of this type works. Then, I will contact Rapoza, as he encourages readers to do, and offer my suggestions.

I think it’s time that the IT industry had a voice to protect us from Congressional acts that are detrimental to the industry.

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