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The Golden State: On the Front Lines of Internet Policy

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All over the world, in every sector of the economy, Internet companies are emerging at a staggering pace, offering an astonishing array of products, services and conveniences. They are creating jobs and opportunities, while reshaping traditional and sometime stagnant industries by bringing them into the mobile, on-demand world of 21st Century e-commerce. Despite the global nature of this explosion of entrepreneurial activity, California remains at its epicenter, both culturally and economically.

With California situated as the central hub of the knowledge economy, its citizens and its government are frequently the first to grapple with the intersection of technological innovation and its effects on society. But California is not alone; all across America, lawmakers are dealing with the rapid changes to our society and economy created by the Internet. As these complex technological issues are debated in public squares around the country, California lawmakers can provide valuable leadership by encouraging technology-friendly policies that do not dampen our innovation economy's unmatched growth potential.

The governing philosophy behind local, state and national laws must be flexible enough for the Internet era. The unique nature of the Internet -- free from government control and governed by multiple stakeholders -- has unleashed unprecedented entrepreneurialism, creativity and innovation, far beyond imagination. These principles must be embodied in our nation's laws and in our elected leaders' approach to technology policy. Nowhere in the country is this leadership more important, or more appropriate, than in the Golden State where a flourishing Internet and technology sector has produced immense societal and economic benefits.

Less than two years ago, the biggest names in the Internet economy joined forces to launch The Internet Association, an organization that strives to give the knowledge economy a unified voice. These leading companies, who form the backbone of the Internet economy, recognized that the shared fundamental values and principles that allowed their companies to grow and flourish were under threat. Now, over 20 major global Internet companies are members of The Internet Association, and we are working to advance public policy solutions to strengthen and protect an open, innovative and free Internet while relentlessly representing this vital economic sector on the critical public policy issues of the day.

In a remarkably short time, the Internet has grown into one of the greatest engines for economic growth, freedom and prosperity the world has ever known. Everyone intuitively understands that the Internet has changed the way we work, play, create and share. What is less understood is just how broadly and democratically the benefits of this technological revolution have been distributed. Consumers, entrepreneurs, small businesses and start-ups are among the greatest beneficiaries of the Internet's sweeping influences.

Not since the Ford Model T or the telephone has an innovation done more to bring consumers and businesses closer together. The barriers to entry in hundreds of business sectors have come crashing down, increasing competition, driving economic growth and job creation. In the modern California economy, Internet jobs are no longer confined to Silicon Valley; Internet-enabled help wanted signs are springing up in every business sector and every region across the state.

A recent Progressive Policy Institute study of the California economy brought the Internet's impact on jobs into focus. The researchers documented that California's Internet-based job growth continues to outpace the rest of the United States. Perhaps of more significance to lawmakers in Sacramento, it found those jobs are more evenly distributed than in past recoveries. Internet-based jobs are not only driving California's economic recovery, but the prosperity is shared throughout the Golden State.

The Internet Association, our member companies, their employees and tens of millions of Internet users will continue to drive economic growth and job creation, improve lives and bring people closer together. Along with California's Internet users and employees, we will be on the ground in Sacramento to assist legislators in navigating these vexing and vitally important public policy issues.

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