WASHINGTON (Dec. 15, 2020) – Connected Commerce Council (3C) President Jake Ward responded today to news reports that several state Attorneys General are preparing to file suit against Google. 3C is a small business advocacy group with more than 13,000 members.
This summer, more than 3,700 small businesses wrote to their elected officials asking them to recognize and appreciate the extraordinary importance of the Digital Safety Net – the tools and services that enable small businesses to acquire new customers, manage operations, and survive in difficult times. The letters asked Governors, Attorneys General, and Members of Congress to ensure digital platforms, tools, and services remain accessible as the pandemic was forcing an increasing number of businesses to close their doors.
A survey of small businesses in Iowa, North Carolina, and Colorado found that state policymakers should focus their time, attention, and resources on saving small businesses rather than attacking the service providers empowering them. Eighty percent of respondents said state government officials should help small businesses by stabilizing the business environment, and 74 percent said the government should not be trying to break apart digital platforms that are critical to small business survival. Surveys are underway in additional states.
“It seems elected officials are not listening to small businesses, or they just don’t care,” said 3C President Jake Ward. “During a global pandemic and the worst economic crisis in a century, American small businesses have repeatedly asked government officials for help. Instead Attorneys General are making it harder for small businesses by dismantling their digital partners when they need them most.”
Reports suggest that a lawsuit filed by state Attorneys General will look to force Google search prioritization of intermediaries – firms like Yelp and TripAdvisor – over direct engagement between customers and small businesses. Google has historically connected small businesses and customers directly, whereas intermediary firms charge fees to small businesses.
“If there is one thing small businesses understand, it is supply and demand. A market manipulated and destabilized by unnecessary government intervention reduces access and drives up cost. If you change the math, you will change the model,” added Ward. “Google provides direct connections between small businesses and their customers. Forcing an otherwise healthy market to prioritize middlemen, will increase costs, reduce value, and push small businesses further away from their customers. Suing successful American companies will draw more headlines than keeping millions of small businesses alive, but it is wrong and won’t go unnoticed.”