Letter to the Editor: Online Act would be bad for business

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The pandemic posed unprecedented challenges for small businesses across the United States. We saw record business closures, many of which have since closed for good. Had it not been for many major companies, such as Google and Amazon, assisting consumers and small businesses during the pandemic, many businesses would have closed without access to online marketplaces provided through these platforms.

Unfortunately, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (Senate Bill 2992/House Resolution 3816) is legislation poised to threaten the ability of these companies to assist small businesses and consumers with the services they love and rely on. As the proud owner of Ignite Fitness Kickboxing in Delaware, I understand firsthand how much risk small businesses will be put in with the AICOA and urge Delaware’s federal delegation to do their part to keep Delaware’s businesses and consumers out of harm’s way, as we continue to recover from the challenges of the pandemic.

To run my business, I rely on several social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, for marketing capabilities and to interact with clients. The pandemic drastically increased our reliance on technology in our everyday lives as our social and work lives quickly became virtually dependent. Many small- and medium-sized businesses, like my own, were forced to alter their operations and implement virtual methods. Businesses across the country continue to rely on these critical services provided by companies such as Facebook, Google, YouTube, Amazon and Microsoft to stay afloat.

Even though these tech services have proven to be of critical importance to small businesses across the country, Congress is attempting to implement the AICOA, which could disrupt access to the digital tools at a time in our economic recovery. It’s been said that this legislation would prohibit platforms prioritizing their own products and services and eliminate the use of Facebook Live, and Amazon would no longer be permitted to provide free two-day shipping on its own Prime products. Additionally, Google would no longer be able to display shopping results, Google Maps and local business reviews. This bill impacts Delawareans and could drastically reduce the effectiveness of many small businesses’ operations.

Small-business owners across the nation, including myself, are worried for their livelihood and the effects that the American Innovation and Choice Online Act will have on their business. This legislation could fulfill its intentions of promoting competition and limiting the power that tech giants have; however, it will derail many businesses who utilize the critical services provided by these companies. Congress must find a way to implement the necessary regulatory measures for large tech companies but not at the cost of their constituents’ businesses. I am calling on Delaware’s federal delegation to do their part to convey the need for revision of this bill to their fellow legislators and keep Americans out of harm’s way, while we finally regain our footing.

Stephanie Preece

Certified public accountant

CEO and founder, Ignite Fitness Kickboxing

Dover

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