2023 was a landmark year for small businesses. Across the country, small business leaders made their voices heard – weighing in on important policy issues in Washington, DC and in state capitals. As we look ahead to what’s in store for 2024, we wanted to share some updates on issues impacting small businesses and how leaders like you can continue to make a difference on policy.
Small businesses need a national comprehensive data privacy law.
Privacy has become a critically important issue for small businesses. In the digital age, ensuring data protection and security is an essential responsibility for small businesses. And small businesses’ customer base often crosses state lines. But absent federal legislation for a national privacy law, 14 states have enacted their own version of a consumer data privacy law. Small businesses need a national privacy law to avoid the patchwork of tracking and complying with many privacy rules, which can be very costly and time-consuming.
We must protect small businesses’ ability to advertise online and compete with larger companies.
Privacy laws must also consider the critical role of basic consumer data and how small businesses benefit from affordable, data-driven digital advertising. Digital ads level the playing field for small advertisers and publishers alike.
- 80% of advertisers agree that online ads help them compete with larger companies.
- 71% of online publishers say they would not have been able to launch and sustain their business without digital advertising revenue.
In 2023, some states, like Florida, passed privacy laws that would make it harder for small businesses to advertise online. After the bill was introduced, small businesses sprang into action.
- More than 100 small businesses emailed their legislators to share concerns about the bill.
- Diego Sampaio of Orlando, owner of Globalfy, an international business development service, told lawmakers that more than half of his business is directly tied to digital ads.
- Morgan Overholt of Miami, who owns Morgan Media, met with legislators in Tallahassee to explain how she uses digital advertising to build her blog’s readership and sell ads to businesses that want to reach the traveling audience.
- LaKita Anderson penned an op-ed in Florida Daily about how online advertising allowed her to start and grow her cooking blog and gave her more financial freedom than ever before.
Small businesses making their voice heard forced the legislature to amend the bill, but more work must be done before it takes effect in October. Similar bills are under consideration in New York and Michigan for 2024.
Lawmakers need to be thoughtful and include small businesses in the conversation as they debate artificial intelligence (AI).
No other issue has risen so quickly to national attention in recent years than artificial intelligence. AI-powered tools help small businesses launch, grow, identify, and serve new customers, save costs, increase revenues, and compete in an increasingly dynamic global market.
In early 2023, the Biden Administration announced a set of voluntary commitments from leading technology companies Amazon, Anthropic, Google, Inflection, Meta, Microsoft, and OpenAI, underscoring safety, security, and trust. In October, the Biden Administration released a landmark Executive Order that directed federal agencies to review and, where necessary, set standards for AI safety, security, privacy and equity, and establish civil rights guidelines, consumer protections, and promote innovation.
As the technology continues to advance, we expect more policymakers to weigh in on new regulations to AI in 2024. At the federal level, the Biden Administration has called on Congress to pass a comprehensive AI law and Senate Majority Leader Schumer has convened a series of AI Insights Forums to understand better what investments and regulations should look like.
In the absence of federal legislation, some states like California and New York are considering AI laws, and several states like Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Massachusetts will likely consider AI legislation next year.
State digital economy legislation should support small business growth.
States also weighed in on the digital economy debate in 2023, with several considering legislation changing how technology platforms operate. Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania introduced legislation defining large technology platforms as engaging in activity that harms a competitor. This could include improving security systems, lowering processing fees, or improving publisher or advertiser services if those improvements disadvantage a competitor.
While none of these state bills were enacted, state legislators continue to examine the digital economy and will likely consider similar bills in 2024.
In 2023, we witnessed the 3C Small Business Network’s remarkable work, where business leaders were #AllAboutAdvocacy. Small businesses from across the country joined forces to advocate for policies that foster growth and innovation.
As we reflect on the challenges and successes of 2023 and look ahead to 2024, it’s clear that small businesses play a vital role in the public policy conversation. Once the 2024 legislative session kicks off in early January, it will be as crucial as ever for small businesses to make their voices heard. And there are so many ways to do that. With our Advocacy Toolkit, you can write your legislators, learn how to write an op-ed in your local newspaper, find out how to host a lawmaker at your business or meet with them in their district office.
If you want to get involved or learn more about the critical issues facing small businesses, email email@example.com, and we’d be happy to set a time to speak with you.
Additionally, if you’re interested in learning more about AI tech policy, join us for our next online event on Tuesday, Jan. 30th at 1pm ET (10am PT) where we’ll do a deep-dive on the state of AI policy today, learning how policymakers are considering regulating AI technology, and how this all could impact small businesses. We’ll hear from Rep. Nick LaLota (NY01) who will give us an overview of Congressional initiatives, and hear from a panel of experts who will share their insights on AI policy and its implications for businesses. Register today to save your spot!