Drew Ament: Data Privacy Law Misses the Mark

It’s no longer the case that you can open a small business that tailors to a specific geographic need. Diversification is the word of the day, and as entrepreneurs, many of us are accustomed to wearing multiple hats. It’s not uncommon for many of our members to wear multiple hats.

Since 2020, there’s been a boom in microbusinesses, businesses ran and operated by one or two people, often out of their own home. It takes a lot of grit, creativity, and hustle to make it work. But this isn’t a walk in the park by any stretch. Thankfully, there’s a plethora of tools to help business owners succeed, including one of the most important in digital advertising.

Personalized, micro-advertising campaigns are a crucial resource that allow small businesses to scale beyond their geographic boundaries. Low-cost, efficient, and direct, digital advertising allows any industry to reach their target audience. Through digital advertising, small businesses can market their products beyond their geographic parameters. Solo entrepreneurs can make a living from their own bedroom. It’s been a brutal couple of years, and for many small businesses we’ve seen plenty of headwinds come our way. Thankfully, digital advertising has been largely immune to the worst effects of inflation, however, that could all change this year.

Congress is currently debating whether or not they should impose significant restrictions on digital advertising. Under the guise of protecting users’ privacy, the American Privacy Rights Act is ladened with carveouts and exemptions that would put businesses like mine in the crosshairs. Internet for Growth supports a national privacy standard, but unfortunately this bill is lacking that in many regards.

One of the challenges facing businesses that depend on their ability to scale is the emerging patchwork of state-by-state digital laws. It seems like every week you’re hearing a new state is planning to adopt a new privacy law, this may sound good and well, but for the solo entrepreneur or small 10-person business, this is another regulatory burden they are saddled with. The American Privacy Rights Act claims to supersede state privacy laws, but the exemptions sprinkled throughout the text will give states every opportunity to continue pushing new data privacy laws. Furthermore, businesses need to have the peace of mind that they are compliant with the law, yet language around the sharing and selling of data leaves many of us with more questions than answers.

Once again, a litany of exemptions have carved a hole big enough to fly a plane through. The “Private Right of Action” would expose every business that relies on digital advertising to potential litigation and ultimately threatening their ability to do business.

Internet for Growth supports pro-consumer, pro-business reforms that will give users peace of mind as they shop, browse, and explore the internet. Unfortunately, legislation like the American Privacy Rights Act misses the mark. We call on Congress to engage with their constituents and listen to the small businesses that depend on digital advertising, before it’s too late

Drew Ament is the Chairman of Internet for Growth’s Advisory Council and owner and CEO of Press1toTalk