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Consumers and Small Businesses Will Suffer Under Progressive Antitrust Laws

Americans want the government to focus on economic stability, not arbitrary antitrust laws. Our recent polling with Echelon Insights made this very clear: A whopping 89% of Americans want Congress to look for ways to address inflation rather than break up large tech companies. What’s more, we found that Americans are concerned that efforts to regulate tech will only drive up prices further—and they’re right. 

Passing laws like S. 2992, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, would not only threaten innovation and market competition but would ultimately cost consumers and create challenges for small businesses.

Supporters of S. 2992 claim it will prohibit large, online platforms and marketplaces from giving preference to their own products or unfairly limiting the availability of competing products. In reality, it would reduce affordability and muddle the customer experience. Specifically, the bill would make it illegal for Google to show relevant reviews or maps at the top of search results, prohibit Apple from displaying Editor’s Choice Apps and prevent Amazon from offering Prime shipping or recommending items through Amazon Choice. 

Not only would these regulations outlaw services that many customers enjoy, but they would force popular online platforms and marketplaces to increase costs for small businesses. The bill’s arbitrary bans on “self-preferencing” will unnecessarily preclude companies from offering bundles, discounts and benefits for partners, despite the fact that many small business owners utilize them to grow their businesses.

According to a survey by the Connected Commerce Council, 85% of small business owners say digital services support their business operations, and more than 40% report that their customer growth is directly related to the use of digital tools. Yet progressive antitrust efforts will raise the cost of these tools, creating unnecessary hurdles for small business owners.

Without arbitrary antitrust regulations restricting growth, the U.S. digital economy is very competitive and serves consumers well by keeping prices affordable. The prices of digital services and products like smartphones, internet packages, computers and other electronic devices have either fallen or increased less rapidly than the prices of other products. The Adobe Digital Price Index (DPI), which measures inflation in the digital economy, shows an average decrease in prices year-over-year from 2015 to 2019 for 15 out of the 18 categories of products it analyzes. And despite historic inflation, online prices overall fell 0.2% year-over-year through September 2022.

85% of small business owners say digital services support their business operations, and more than 40% report that their customer growth is directly related to the use of digital tools.

According to our polling, two-thirds of Americans “trust the free market to address competition issues in the tech industry,” and small businesses simply want to be able to access and afford useful online services. Not to mention, it is tremendous innovation and entrepreneurship that has allowed the tech sector to contribute significantly to America’s economic growth. For instance, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the digital market grew at an annual rate of 4.8% between 2012 and 2020, compared to a 1.5% growth rate for the overall economy during the same period. 

Antitrust laws were historically meant to protect consumer welfare by ensuring competition in a free, open market. They gave consumers the benefits of more choices and lower prices while allowing room for innovation and growth. But today’s progressive leaders are pushing for legislation that is extremely out of touch with the original aims of antitrust. No matter how Congress spins it, it’s clear to Americans and small businesses that these regulations will only burden our economy, small businesses and consumers.