Illinois House Cybersecurity, Data Analytics, & IT Committee
Chairman, Jaime Andrade, Jr.
Thursday, March 30, 2017

Testimony by:
Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce
Michael L. Reever, Vice President, Government Relations
RE: Opposition to HB 2774 (Right to Know) and HB 3449 (Geolocation)

Mr. Chairman, members of the committee: Thank you for the opportunity to testify on House Bill 2774 (Right to Know) and House Bill 3449 (Geolocation).

I am Michael Reever, Vice President of Government Relations for the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. We represent the depth and breadth of the business community in the six-county northeastern region of Illinois. We have over 1,100 individual member companies both large and small.

Not only do we continue to represent the interests of tech companies large and small that are members of the Chamber, but it is worth noting that the Chicagoland Chamber actually launched the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, which would later evolve to become the stand-alone parent of 1871, a crown jewel of Chicago, and the Midwest’s tech hub.

House Bills 2774 and 3449 would send a chilling message to not only current and thriving tech-entrepreneurs, but to those who are thinking of starting businesses of their own. The message it would send is that Illinois is not a place to do business. The message it would send is that an entrepreneur will need the resources of a Fortune 500 company, and an army of lawyers, to understand these complex bills that would open up new start-ups to frivolous litigation. We’ve all seen that these entrepreneurs often start their companies in their own homes and garages. These bills would shut down these companies before they ever have a chance to grow. The message would be that Illinois doesn’t want to encourage the next Chicago-made Grubhub, Motorola, Gogo, Orbitz, or Groupon. The impact would also likely give pause to companies already creating jobs in Chicagoland; from Uber and Lyft, to Amazon delivery and distribution.

The chilling effect goes down the rhetorical supply chain of jobs created and other industries supported. This is not just a tech issue. Every action, or law in this case, has an equal and opposite, reaction from a business perspective.

To be clear, privacy and consumer protection are important. It is in the best interest of companies large and small to ensure their customers know how information is being used. In fact, as my colleagues have described, there are numerous protections provided by companies, and laws already in place. I can assure you, no company wants the headlines involving customer data being misused, whether illegally or an honest mistake that turns into a PR problem. 

With these bills that honest mistake becomes a lawsuit. These bills, to use a phrase, are frivolous lawsuits seeking defendants. And they will scare away potential tech companies and leaders who may otherwise have come to Illinois.

It is important to understand the current economic and tech climate we have in Chicagoland. On March 3 of this year, KPMG released a study that showed Chicago is expected to be a top-ten center for tech-hubs over the next four-years. We were only one of four U.S. cities to make the cut.

The bi-partisan Commission on Government Forecasting & Accountability’s 2017 annual State
of Illinois Economic Forecast reported that new jobs in tech and science-based companies
helped lift Illinois’ sagging employment numbers. In addition, it identified Chicago’s tech sector
as one of the long-term positive factors for Illinois’ future economic outlook, and specifically,
continued growth in Chicagoland.

I quote: “The increase in activity is a clear positive for long-term growth because some of the smallest firms are the most important when it comes to spurring employment. Startups that can expand quickly, often dubbed 'gazelles,' are especially important to economic growth, sparking lots of job creation and investment.”

It is important to understand the chilling effect these bills would have on the smallest of startups
in Chicagoland and across Illinois, and the negative chain reaction they will create across industries. Stunting growth stunts our State’s overall economy.

The very real threat of frivolous lawsuits, couched in terms of consumer privacy and protection,
is not the best approach. We should take the time to identify opportunities to accomplish the goal without punitive actions. HB 2774 and 3449 are not the right solutions.

Please oppose HB 2774 and HB 3449. Thank you for your consideration.