The Connected Commerce Council (3C) and a group of small business advocates and stakeholders sent a joint letter to FTC Chairman Joe Simons today urging the FTC to include small business representatives in its series of public hearings for the Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century initiative. 3C and its co-signers ask that the FTC invite small businesses and small business advocates to play a more direct role in the new initiative’s process, and also asks the agency to strongly consider the fundamental role technology platforms and digital tools play in contributing to the growth and strength of America’s 30 million small businesses.
The letter, which is available online and excerpted below, is co-signed by the Connected Commerce Council, Small Business Roundtable, National Association of Women Business Owners, Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, National Association for the Self-Employed, US Black Chambers, Inc., and the National Taxpayers Union.
“On behalf of America’s 30 million small businesses, we thank you and your fellow Commissioners for dedicating your time and resources to leading this series of hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century and, in doing so, helping to determine the balance the FTC should strike when it comes to consumer protection, policy making, enforcement, innovation, and competition.
This is a critically important discussion, not only for our country, but for all small businesses, independent contractors, individual taxpayers and sole proprietors who use the Internet and digital tools every day to create new businesses, buy supplies, sell goods and services, increase staff, pay taxes, promote products, and collectively employ more than 60 million Americans.
On one hand, America’s businesses are booming thanks to technology. On the other, we are being buffeted by a slew of state, federal, even international laws intended to address privacy, limit the collection of data, and increase competition. While many of these proposals may be well-meaning, they often times contradict each other, sow confusion, and result in high costs for small business already struggling to turn a profit. We cannot afford more of the same. This is a situation crying out for clarification and leadership from the FTC.”
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is currently accepting public comments and is scheduling a series of hearings on “Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century” in order to evaluate the need for regulation in the technology sector.
“As a small business operator, I’m grateful to the FTC for providing a forum for these important conversations, and hope that the participation of small businesses, 3C, and other small business groups in these discussions will prove effective and convincing in conveying the critical role that technology plays in the growth and development of the modern American small business,” said 3C Board Member and Founder, CoCommercial Tara Gentile.
“Small businesses utilize technology in every aspect of our business today. Almost everything we do relies on reliable, accessible, affordable, access to all types of digital platforms,” said 3C Board Member and CEO of Morgan Miller Plumbing Stella Crewse. “These platforms allow us to operate more efficiently. They help lower our costs by providing easy access to platforms and portals that help us do almost everything. Answering the phone, accounting, material sourcing, tracking our fleet, marketing, even our human resources relies on digital technology. New policies that do not take into account how small businesses thrive by having access to these technology platforms, would have a direct negative effect on all small businesses. It is extremely important that small businesses are heard and are a part of the conversation so that we can continue to be a driving force in the economy.”
In addition to holding hearings, the FTC will accept public comments on these issues until November 15. Over the next several months, 3C will work with its network of nearly 200 small businesses to submit comments to the FTC. These comments will encourage the agency to weigh the needs of small businesses as they relate to policing technology, including issues such as privacy, trade/data localization, data science and internet algorithms, cybersecurity, and regulation of E-Commerce tools.
“America’s small businesses provide a wealth knowledge and a unique perspective on the importance of digital tools and technologies to start, grow, and run their businesses. As the FTC continues to plan out the remainder of its Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century public roadshow and comment period, I encourage them to invite small businesses to participate in this important conversation,” said 3C President Jake Ward. “Policies directed at regulating technology platforms will inevitably affect small businesses that rely on these tools. We owe it to America’s small businesses to invite them to the table and welcome their hard earned experience.”
About the Connected Commerce Council
The Connected Commerce Council (3C) is a non-profit membership organization with a single goal: to promote small businesses’ access to essential digital technologies and tools. 3C provides small businesses with access to the market’s most effective digital tools available, provides coaching to optimize growth and efficiency, and works to cultivate a policy environment that considers and respects the interests of today’s small businesses.
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