When President Joe Biden delivered his State of the Union address this month, he laid out a vision for Congress and the administration, one that was laser-focused on addressing the immediate and widely felt needs of the American people. The speech provided a clear agenda for what issues we should be tackling, and that should motivate Democrats to tailor their agenda to the policies that align with the President’s vision.
Of course, the goals that the President highlighted were numerous, but his address mirrored where the American people, including Georgia voters, have their hearts and minds focused. Especially as the 2022 midterms approach, voters are expecting the party to bring a cohesive, dedicated focus to the issues everyday Americans are concerned about, just as the President detailed.
That includes taking adequate time to consider the consequences of policies currently under discussion, including the slate of antitrust bills aimed at the technology sector moving through the Senate.
Ongoing discussions around the technology sector are important, no one would argue that. Technology platforms and services have become integral parts of our daily lives and economy, and efforts should be made to improve competition and support small businesses. But the current bills under consideration – which, as currently drafted, could have a chilling effect of not only disrupting innovations consumers have enjoyed for years but swing the pendulum too far to solve the issues the bill attempts to correct – In essence, the AICOA attempts to kill a fly with a jackhammer when we should be using a much more narrow approach with crystal clear language.
One bill heard this year in the Senate Judiciary Committee, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, attempts to ban the integration of basic technology products. This could unfairly penalize the business structure of technology companies that have invested heavily in Georgia, and consequently disrupt products that consumers use on a daily basis – for example, the bill bans Google from displaying information on local businesses in their search results.
Not only are there more pressing priorities in our nation and state at this time, but these bills could also impact our economic recovery following the pandemic. The growth of the tech and e-commerce industry has provided a much-needed jobs hub that is offering members of our community new chances to get back on their feet as we continue to move past the downturn of the pandemic. And we have seen continued commitments from the technology sector to supporting Black talent in Atlanta, lifting up entrepreneurs, startups, and our increasingly skilled workforce.
But again, sensible regulation and rules for technology companies are critical considerations for lawmakers in the 21st Century. And President Biden recognized that, too, during his address. The President spoke to the need to improve children’s safety online so there is a place for regulation in this space. Protecting children is a worthy goal; one that creates positive change in the technology space and should be a top priority for lawmakers.
Clearly, technology policy must be viewed with a particularly discerning eye. As a matter of fact, I supported state legislation that would have addressed app payments for developers and consumers. But even I think the more measured approach is for lawmakers to slow down on breaking up the tech sector, study its impacts, and prioritize accordingly.
An election year means a ripe opportunity for positive change and a focused agenda. Voters in Georgia are looking for exactly that. Georgians will appreciate a re-focus on economic recovery, recognize the impacts of hasty anti-tech legislation, and take a level-headed approach to tech policymaking that these important issues deserve.
Dar’Shun Kendrick represents House District 93 in the Georgia House of Representatives