Congress Ignoring Small Businesses in Rush to Pass Data Privacy Bill

Washington, D.C. – Today, Internet for Growth, representing more than 2,000 small businesses depending on digital advertising, expressed grave concerns about anti-advertising provisions in the American Privacy Rights Act (APRA), scheduled for markup by the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee tomorrow.

Internet for Growth’s leadership and members said that despite their outreach to Congress, APRA’s worst provisions remain. Loopholes in exemptions for small businesses would expose them to civil lawsuits under a new “private right of action,” while APRA would eliminate ordinary customer data and advertising practices. Proposed data minimization rules define digital advertising as non-essential.

“Small businesses have been pleading for a national privacy law that preempts complicated state laws, but shockingly, APRA incentivizes more and duplicates enforcement at the state and federal levels. A misunderstanding of digital advertising and vague wording guarantee ever-expanding internet regulations and a flood of lawsuits,” said Internet for Growth’s Executive Director Brendan Thomas.

“Digital advertising is essential to small businesses and everyone’s internet experience, creating speed, personalization and convenience,” he said. “Like the majority of Americans, we support data privacy and security, but the average web user will not like the effects of this bill, which will increase costs and inconvenience for small businesses and consumers, and hurt innovation, jobs and economic growth.”

During National Small Business Week last month, Internet for Growth led a delegation to Congress in Washington, D.C., to advocate for digital advertising. To date, the organization has conducted nearly 100 meetings with congressional offices. Small businesses, entrepreneurs, and creators across the country are voicing their concerns in local news outlets and have generated thousands of letters to Congress urging changes to APRA.

Frank Swoboda, founder and CEO of Corner Booth Media in Spokane, Wash., and an Internet for Growth Advisory Council member, has met several times with the office of Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and lead sponsor of APRA, to express his concerns.

“Digital advertising is a vital resource for small businesses, giving us an equal foot to stand on as we compete against larger corporations,” said Swoboda. “Recently, I joined with other small business owners to travel to Washington D.C., and warn Congress, including my representative, Cathy Morris-Rodgers, of the dangers present in this bill. Washington State depends on digital advertising to support businesses, nonprofits, and much more. This legislation continues to miss the mark and would set us back tremendously.

Internet for Growth, an initiative of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, promotes the transformative role the advertising-supported internet plays in empowering America’s small businesses, helping entrepreneurs bring their ideas to life. Supported by a diverse community of over 700 IAB members including marketers, agencies, publishers, platforms, and ad tech providers, as well as hundreds of small businesses and creators, we highlight the benefits digital advertising delivers to local economies, expanding opportunities for innovators to reach markets far beyond their neighborhoods. Our work ensures people understand the limitless opportunity the internet provides for creativity and commerce, fair competition, and connecting with consumers on mutually shared values and interests, no matter their background or geography.