An open letter to Congress from small businesses supporting digital advertising

July 12, 2022 

Dear Representatives Pallone, Schakowsky, McMorris Rodgers and Bilirakis,  

As Congress debates new policies to regulate the internet, it’s essential that lawmakers understand the potential impact of those policies on small businesses. Bills like the Banning Surveillance Advertising Act and the Competition and Transparency in Digital Advertising Act (CTDA) might sound nice, but would cripple entrepreneurs and innovators competing with the largest companies in today’s economy, where data and information are crucial resources, and customers expect timely, tailored suggestions for goods and services. 

That’s why Internet for Growth, a coalition of hundreds of small businesses and creators, is urging Congress to adopt a federal law to protect Americans’ data privacy, as well as jobs and growth on Main Street. We’re also relying on easy-to-use, integrated advertising services that laws to promote competition in the industry, however well-intentioned, would destroy. 

Digital advertising and marketing are essential to e-commerce. The ad-supported internet plays an enormous role in our national economy, accounting for 12% of gross domestic product, translating to 17 million internet-dependent jobs, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau. Small businesses and individuals account for 38% of those jobs, more than the largest companies. In recent years, the internet economy has grown seven times faster than the U.S. economy. Digital advertising and marketing also support free email, news, entertainment, search tools, navigation and more, which Americans value at thousands of dollars per person annually. 

However, a growing effort in Washington to restrict popular advertising and e-commerce technology could grind this powerful economic engine to a halt, even as more Americans earn their living online. Despite the odds, 2021 was a record-breaking year for start-ups, due to free promotional opportunities the ad-supported internet provides, and precision advertising and marketing. These important tools for small businesses are now in jeopardy. 

Internet for Growth calls on Congress to ensure Americans’ ability to develop new products, good jobs, and economic growth with the help of the ad-supported internet. Instead of laws punishing a few big companies, which would instead punish ordinary people, we need a federal data privacy law setting basic principles we can all follow, one that protects online privacy and preserves our country’s spirit of ingenuity. But Congress is currently considering national privacy legislation that could subject entrepreneurs and innovators to new rules, regulations and penalties that could hinder the growth we’ve made over the years. 

We urge you to consider the impact on us and our customers when debating the Banning Surveillance Advertising Act, the Competition and Transparency in Digital Advertising Act, or the American Data Privacy and Protection Act, which could raise costs at a time of high inflation, while destroying the speed and personalization users expect from their online experience. Bills targeting just a few companies could have unintended consequences for the rest of us. As technology advances, America needs flexible, forward-looking solutions that preserve not only small businesses’ ability to compete in the modern economy, but also the United States’ ability to compete globally.