For more than 10 years, as executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of GoDaddy.com, I had the privilege of witnessing, firsthand, an amazing evolution of law and policy on the Internet. In 2001, when I accepted the position, the Internet was a virtual wild west of anything goes-style communicating. It’s hard to remember those lawless days now that we’ve evolved to a more structured environment. We have come a long way in the past decade.
That progress didn’t happen without significant leadership and effort from a handful of technology companies who took seriously the need for establishing a framework around which Internet policy could be developed. For their efforts, I and the Internet thank them.
There is a similar story to go along with each bit of legislation we supported or opposed. There was the conversation with then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) about child protection that evolved into the extremely effective PROTECT Our Children Act. There was the conversation with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) about fighting online child pornography that evolved into the related Keeping the Internet Devoid of Sexual Predators Act. And, of course, there were many conversations about legislation that we couldn’t support because of its chilling effect on the free exchange of ideas online, or open access to the Internet, or innovation, or any number of other issues.
The point here is that if you’re going to make the effort to follow and influence policy, if you’re going to take trips to D.C. that completely wipe you out and if you’re going to spend your client’s money monitoring policy development and attempting to help shape it, you must do it in an efficient and effective manner. And, you can only do that if you know who the players are.