Sen. Amy Klobuchar says in a recent MinnPost news story that her American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICOA) puts “common sense rules of the road in place to lower costs for consumers and help small businesses compete.”
The truth is that S.2992 would have negative real-world consequences for American consumers and small businesses. This anti-tech bill would threaten American innovation and progress at a time when we can least afford it.
An anti-innovation vendetta fails to address the rising economic anxiety amid soaring inflation and record gas prices affecting so many Minnesotans. That’s why I and so many others oppose this bill. Instead of providing much-needed help to working Americans, it would add unnecessary and highly burdensome regulations that will harm our country’s economy and national security.
Don’t just take my word for it. In a recent survey of 1,691 likely voters, Americans overwhelmingly want politicians to address issues related to the cost of living, national security and health care. It’s no surprise that regulating tech companies is significantly lower on the list of voter priorities.
Likely voters also believe tech companies make their lives easier and more convenient. That’s certainly the case for those of us who used cutting-edge tech tools during the pandemic and thereafter. It’s also true for Minnesotan farmers who rely on technology to increase production and better conserve the environment and vital resources. Amid unprecedented challenges, technology has proven to be a critical tool.
Technology powers Minnesota’s economy and small businesses. According to a 2021 study, our state’s technology sector comprises more than 245,500 individuals, delivering an estimated $31.8 billion economic impact on our economy. Comprising over 8% of the state’s total workforce, the estimated median wage for technology workers in Minnesota is 73% higher than the median wage for all occupations in the state. During the COVID-19 pandemic, technology was a lifeline for Minnesota small businesses, who increased their use of digital tools by a whopping 62 percent.
By passing the AICOA, we’d be increasing bureaucratic red tape and preventing certain future startup acquisitions by technology companies. Notably, this legislation compounds structural issues in our economy by potentially disincentivizing future investment in tech startups. At a time when small businesses, farmers and everyday people are relying more and more on technology innovations, the last thing we can afford is a stifling of investment and growth.
Washington policymakers should be working to address the real problems facing Main Street Americans: inflation, gas prices and national security. This bill does none of that.
There are other concerns with Klobuchar’s bill from her fellow Democratic Senate colleagues surrounding content moderation. In a recent letter, Sens. Brian Schatz of Hawaii, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico, and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin shared with Sen. Klobuchar that “unless it is clarified, the bill would supercharge harmful content online and make it more difficult to combat.” At a time when political polarization is dangerously high, the last thing America can afford is more online disinformation.
In sum, Klobuchar’s proposed legislation would hurt consumers and small business owners as they grapple with putting gas in their cars and food on their tables. It will also further degrade our political discourse by taking away content moderation tools from large tech companies at a time when these tools are necessary. Instead of targeting popular tech services that support Minnesotans from Worthington to Warroad, our leaders in Congress should listen to voters’ concerns and act accordingly.
Roz Peterson, Lakeville, is a former state representative and the owner of a small business.