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Yahoo Quits Chamber of Commerce

The search engine Yahoo has left the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a spokesperson for the company confirmed Thursday.

“As our membership renewal time neared and we reviewed our membership, we decided not to renew,” the company said in a statement.

Yahoo spokeswoman Amber Allman added that the timing of the decision was not “definitive.”

But it’s no secret that the Internet company and the chamber have at least one political conflict over a bill that would block overseas websites selling counterfeit goods, such as discount golf clubs and tax-free cigarettes.

In the past several months, the chamber has poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into a vigorous lobbying campaign in support of the legislation which would authorize the Justice Department to file a civil action against foreign websites “dedicated to infringing activities.” The bill, introduced in May by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), has 31 co-sponsors.

The order would place a burden on search engines such as Yahoo, requiring them to block these suspect sites from showing up in results. It would also make it illegal for Internet service providers to connect users to the flagged sites.

The chamber-led coalition includes Walmart, Eli Lilly & Co. and Netflix, but one big chamber member — Google — has spoken out against the idea, saying that restricting the Internet in the U.S. sets a bad international precedent.

Opponents of the legislation, including Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who has put a hold on the bill, argue that it will restrain online commerce and that it is the first step to censoring the Web. Others say the language defines infringing too broadly.

The chamber said it has a policy against commenting on membership changes.

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