A letter from Jack Lavin, President & CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber, to the Illinois Congressional Delegation:

Representing more than 1,000 businesses that employ 400,000 individuals throughout the region, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce advocates for a dynamic economy. On behalf of our members, we are concerned that proposed tech regulation legislation would disrupt how small businesses operate.

During the pandemic, as in-person activities were severely curtailed or halted altogether, businesses were able to survive through the offering of digital services and by accessing online marketplace opportunities. Increased digitalization will likely be a lasting impact of the pandemic which is why it is important to ensure that businesses have continued access to the digital tools critical to their operations. Two pieces of proposed regulation legislation, specifically the “American Innovation and Choice Online Act,” (HR 3816) and the “Ending Platform Monopolies Act,” (HR 3825), would prevent access to those digital tools at a perilous time in our economic recovery as labor shortages and supply chain delays mount.

HR 3825’s prohibition on any potential “conflict of interest” would force Google to sell off products like Gmail, YouTube, and Google Maps — putting these free services at risk and eliminating a variety of helpful integrations the help businesses attract and serve their customers. If these services were to shift to a fee-based model or disappear, the impacts would be widely felt in the business community.

HR 3816 would prohibit platforms from giving their own products and services advantages over those of competitors on the platform. This would mean that Amazon would be banned from providing free two-day shipping on its own Prime products which could hurt small businesses that rely on the free shipping feature to keep costs down. Google would be prevented from displaying Google Maps or local business reviews in Google search results, because it could be seen as “discriminating” against rival services like Yelp. During the pandemic, communities supported their local businesses, but this bill could make it harder for local customers and tourists to easily find information about local businesses through Google search.

The digital tools and services that have become integrated parts of countless small and medium-sized businesses and helped them survive during the pandemic are at risk should HR 3816 and HR 3825 pass. With the persistent health and economic uncertainty caused by COVID-19 and its variants, now is not the time to expose businesses to new costs or burdens. Please support Illinois’ businesses and oppose HR 3816 and HR 3825.