By Carl Szabo
As the American Bar Association (ABA) meets this week for its annual Antitrust Law Spring Meeting, and with the future of antitrust laws under a national spotlight, policymakers in Washington must consider what is at stake: our nation’s continued ability to innovate and remain a global leader in technological innovation.
While our leaders must protect consumers and promote competition in the marketplace, they must also consider the harmful damage that misguided antitrust proposals could inflict on America’s economy.
Unfortunately, many of our nation’s leaders fail to understand that punishing the success of America’s technology companies will hinder our nation’s ability to innovate—not just in the tech sector but across our entire economy. Misguided reforms could also threaten our nation’s start-ups and small businesses, which rely on technology to market their products and reach consumers.
Technology isn’t just a sector of our economy; it is the infrastructure of our economy. From keeping small businesses afloat during the pandemic to powering the economy and jobs of tomorrow, technological innovation is something we must promote, not derail.
Misusing antitrust law could also leave the nation decades behind in technological innovation and economic growth, putting us at risk of losing our edge and falling behind foreign countries with diametrically different values. And in an ever-changing cyber battlefield, our domestic technology sector plays a critical role in protecting American national security interests and a democratic and open internet against those who do not share our views.
The American public agrees. A recent study conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of NetChoice, found a majority of the public opposed breaking up big tech companies such as Amazon (59%), Facebook (53%) and Google (59%) “if it meant a foreign tech company were to take a sizable share of the markets these companies operate in.”
Most Americans are against any break-up that would have unintended, harmful effects on the services tech companies offer. Additionally, the same study also found that a mere three percent of Americans believe that antitrust reform is a top issue for U.S. lawmakers in the 2021 legislative session.
Sweeping antitrust reforms or breakup of America’s most innovative companies has the danger to create barriers for small businesses and startups that are looking to scale their product and bring their new idea to market by discouraging potential investment. According to a recent survey, “58% of start-ups in the U.S. list ‘being acquired’ as the most realistic long-term goal for their company.”
Upending existing laws with far-reaching changes would essentially undermine these businesses that utilize acquisitions to ensure that innovative products are bolstered, quickly brought to market and available to consumers. It would make it more difficult for small businesses and start-ups to merge, grow and reach new audiences.
The stakes are high. Limiting the technology industry’s ability to lead and innovate would harm consumers and our nation’s competitive edge in the global marketplace. Instead of upending current antitrust laws, our leaders must look to smart solutions that preserve America’s technological edge, enhance our national security and protect our American values of an open and accessible internet.
Carl Szabo is vice president and general counsel of NetChoice.