3C: Small businesses can no longer be shut out of FTC hearings on technology regulations
Washington, DC – October 15, 2018 – The House Small Business Committee shared their concerns with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today that small businesses have not been fairly represented in the Commission’s hearings on the role of technology in the 21st Century. In a bipartisan letter signed by Chairman Steve Chabot (OH-01) and Ranking Member Nydia Velázquez (NY-07), the committee encouraged the FTC to make the “next round of hearings and research be more comprehensive and inclusive of all sectors of the economy and that small business people and data about how small business use technology and data be included as part of the official record.”
“The Connected Commerce Council and our members appreciate Chairman Chabot and Ranking Member Velázquez speaking out on behalf of America’s small businesses and their employees,” said 3C President Jake Ward. “They understand all too well how often the unique and valuable perspective of small businesses are excluded from important policy discussions related to technology. 3C is supportive of the FTC’s objectives and the process generally, but given their stake in these discussions, it is critical that small business be provided a seat at the table.
In the first wave of field hearings conducted by the FTC to examine Competition and Consumer Protection in America’s 21st Century, witnesses have included well qualified academics, legal experts, economists, and policymakers, but no small businesses or their representatives. A recent study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, found that 84 percent of America’s nearly 30 million small businesses use at least one digital platform to engage and serve their customers.
“It is undeniable that digital platforms and technology have changed our lives and the way we do business,” said Jeremy Howie who serves on the 3C Board of Directors and as CEO of Enlightened Marketing in Colorado. “For millions of small business owners like me and my clients, these tools are critical to not only our success, but our survival. It is appropriate and fair that the FTC consider the wide-ranging implications of 21st century tools and how best to deal with them as they evolve. But to ask these questions without the perspective and input of small businesses is irresponsible at best, and puts the livelihood of millions of Americans at stake. Which in turn, puts the livelihood of America itself at stake.”
In addition to holding hearings, the FTC has requested public comments on these issues. The deadline is November 15. 3C submitted comments asking the FTC 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.
“Small business success in the modern day economy is threatened by a new set of state, federal, and international laws being created to address privacy, limit the collection of data, and increase competition. It is important to address these issues, but counterproductive to do so without vigorously weighing the needs of small businesses. As the FTC considers how best to regulate technology platforms, the agency would be well-served to take the digital integration of these folks into account,” Ward added.