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Maine Small Business Owners Express Frustration Over Data Privacy and Protection Act

Augusta, ME (April 10, 2024): Maine small business leaders expressed concern and disappointment at the consideration of Legislative Document 1977 and House Paper 1270, legislation that would regulate how businesses collect and use data to find customers, grow, and succeed. Recognizing the bill’s good intentions, the business leaders said data collection and usage restrictions would make online advertising more expensive and less effective, significantly harming small businesses. More than 15 businesses signed a letter urging Maine legislators to amend the bill and not “overregulate digital advertising tools that small businesses need to get ahead.” 

“We operate out of a small, rural town and rely on digital ads to find new customers and grow our business beyond Maine,” said Michael Gaffney, president of Seawicks Candle Co. in Richmond, ME. “I understand protecting consumer data privacy is important, but making online advertising more expensive and less effective would be detrimental to Maine small businesses like mine.”

Small business digital advertising partners like Google and Facebook use basic consumer data, including general location, device type, language preference, and interests, to help businesses reach the right audiences. “Data minimization” language in LD 1977 / HP 1270 would prevent businesses from using customer location data for important decisions like where to open new locations. It would also prevent businesses’ marketing partners from collecting traffic data needed to measure and improve website performance and advertising effectiveness.

“Digital advertising plays a huge role in growing our family business and getting our niche products in front of the right customers,” said Geo Johnston, director of operations at Maine Medicinals in Dresden, ME. “I hope policymakers understand how harmful the bill would be to Maine business leaders like me and make amendments to protect both consumer data privacy and small business success.” 

The Data Privacy and Protection Act also requires small businesses with at least 50,000 customer interactions to routinely conduct expensive and time-consuming “data protection assessments” that would require help from lawyers and consultants and crush small businesses financially.

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