By Jamal Thomas
Technology has become a necessity in our personal and work lives. As such, Congress is right to consider sensible regulations for the technology sector that promote competition and protect consumers. However, such regulation must be done carefully and without sacrificing access to critical applications and platforms that so many American businesses utilize on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, two of the bills that are currently under consideration by Congress as part of a Big Tech regulation package miss the mark. Congressman David Cicilline’s “American Choice and Innovation Online Act” (HR 3816) and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal’s the “Ending Platform Monopolies Act” (HR 3825) would make significant changes to major tech platforms, thus preventing them from offering popular services that citizens receive today for free or low cost, while also restricting their ability to provide information and tools currently existing within their services. Should these bills pass, the negative impact would be widespread and detrimental.
HR 3825’s prohibition on any potential “conflict of interest” would force Google to sell off products, such as Gmail, YouTube, and Google Maps, and create a situation where these free services are at risk of eliminating a variety of integrations that businesses use to attract and serve their customers. Local businesses depend on the support of the community, but this bill would make it harder for customers to find information about their neighborhood businesses. For example, currently, in just a simple Google search, a consumer is able to find information and reviews about a neighborhood business, click for directions to the business, and even shop with the business.
HR 3816 would prohibit online platforms from prioritizing their own products and services. As a result, Amazon could be banned from providing free, two-day shipping on its own Prime products, and Google could no longer display its shopping results, Google Maps locations, or local business reviews.
Congress must find a way to regulate technology without burdening the very consumers they are working to protect and the small businesses that are the backbone of our communities. HR 3816 and HR 3825 were rushed through the committee without a single hearing. This is as far as they should go. I encourage Congress to set aside these bills and focus its energy on regulations that truly protect consumers.
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