Letter to the Editor: Congress must balance consumers’ data privacy with small business needs

Over the past two decades, Mark Thomas Men’s Apparel has carefully built our brand as a high-quality men’s clothing store in Upstate New York in part by advertising on social media platforms to reach our target audience. Over the years, we have been able to compete with large-scale competitors, who have unlimited advertising budgets and to expand our reach by embracing the use of digital advertising.

We know that data-driven ads are one of the most cost-effective ways for countless small businesses to reach consumers that otherwise might not know who we are. Like many local businesses, we need these tools to compete in the marketplace.

The current debate that is happening over protecting consumers’ privacy is an important one. However, sweeping proposals introduced in Congress, and highlighted in a hearing on data privacy, would have a devastating impact on businesses like mine. Lawmakers should address this issue carefully to not negatively impact the ability of small businesses to reach our customers in the most efficient manner.

I encourage Sen. Charles Schumer and our other congressional representatives to keep small businesses in mind when they evaluate policies related to digital advertising.

The writer is the owner of Mark Thomas Men’s Apparel.