And for their next trick, Congress will make the everyday technology we all rely on disappear! Yes, you read that correctly. Instead of tackling the day’s critical issues like inflation, Washington’s political performers are redirecting Americans away from their dysfunctionality by beating up the tech industry. And this sleight of hand must stop. Small businesses like mine, and my customers, need lawmakers to focus on controlling the economic crisis, not debating Amazon Basics, Google Maps, and Instagram ads.
I am a professional magician and public speaker and consider myself lucky that I was able to transition my business entirely online using social media and virtual meeting platforms during the pandemic. It is more important than ever for government to expand access to online tools, not limit them or spend time forcing companies to spin-off products as entirely separate businesses. Small businesses, educational institutions, and the government need stable, secure technology services to keep things running smoothly. A crucial lesson of the past few years should be that pandemic preparedness means ensuring our institutions are equipped with a robust digital backbone.
Taking this a step further, as our economy and daily lives have transitioned online more than ever, elected officials must make sure tech companies are operating responsibly. But that shouldn’t mean turning the digital tools that make our lives easier into a political football.
It seems Congress disagrees, though, and is willing to forgo consumer welfare to give competitors a leg-up. Bill sponsors and supporters from both sides of the aisle – in both houses of Congress – have grabbed a lot of media attention by waging war against the tech sector. The bills under consideration in DC would disconnect and degrade the digital services and essential features millions of Americans use every day. Do you really want to spend more for Amazon Prime Delivery every year or have to start paying for your favorite social media sites? These proposals would dramatically undermine the way small businesses connect with consumers.
A study recently reported that Congress’s anti-tech bills could create a $22 billion overall negative impact on consumers as they interfere with Amazon Prime and other popular services. Over half a million American small businesses use these platforms to increase their customer base, including myself. About 60% of my business comes in through Facebook, and the rest through Google My Business.
As if that isn’t enough, the bills would also slow the advancement of New York’s home-grown tech sector by prohibiting companies of a specific size from acquiring and investing in startups. Mergers and acquisitions are a significant part of the American innovation ecosystem, quickly bringing new services to market and delivering more value to consumers.
Senator Schumer and our Congressional representatives should focus on the ongoing pandemic, economic hardship, record inflation, an uptick in crime, and a war raging in Ukraine – the rest is just smoke and mirrors.
Andy Peters is a Manhattan-based emcee, magician, and public speaker.