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By Bruce Berke - Concord | Sep 24, 2022

With Congress back in session, the race is on to finalize last-minute legislation before the election. Unfortunately, one piece of critical, bipartisan legislation remains unfinished and may stay that way unless Senator Hassan and Shaheen step forward; that is new antitrust protections for small businesses and consumers against big tech companies.

As we all know, only a handful of technology companies, such as Google and Amazon, dominate the internet. This dominance has been shown to be used by these companies to engage in unfair and anticompetitive activities. These tech giants often purchase competitors in their infancy and vertically and horizontally integrate, ensuring their dominance only continues.

The results for small businesses and consumers have been bad. The line between paid products and organic search in Google continues to be blurred. An investigation by the Wall Street Journal found Amazon has hurt small businesses with practices such as using private seller data to offer its own competing products. This is on top of other significant complaints the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) has received from small businesses who report unfairness in how their products are placed and listed on the platform.

The American Innovation and Choice Online Act seeks to set some basic rules of the road to ensure that these tech giants can’t do things like unfairly preference their own products over a small business’s or unfairly choke off competition that consumers and small businesses desire. This is just commonsense and 84% of NFIB small business owners have indicated they support it.

The bill is being spearheaded by a progressive, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and a conservative, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and has the support of everyone from Democrats like Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) and Dick Durbin (IL) to Republicans like Ted Cruz (TX) and Josh Hawley (MO). It was reported to the Senate floor by an overwhelming vote of 16-6. Unfortunately, the legislation has languished for months. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has indicated he’s waiting on Senators, like New Hampshire’s Hassan and Shaheen, to indicate their support.

If the bill dies, it will be a big win for Big Tech companies, who have reportedly spent $120 million to defeat the bill, and a serious loss for actual small business owners and consumers. For that reason, small business owners are asking Senators Hassan and Shaheen to step up and say if they support small businesses and consumers or out of state big tech companies.

Bruce Berke is the New Hampshire State Director of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the state and nation’s leading small business advocacy organization.


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