Small Business Week and the Digital Economy: Internet Freedom is Fundamental to Entrepreneurship and Business Growth

By at 30 April, 2018, 3:59 pm

By Karen Kerrigan-

During National Small Business Week, we are reminded about the significant role America’s small businesses play in supporting communities across the United States and contributing to our national economy. And in a business landscape that is becoming increasingly digital, it’s important to remember that sound internet policy is essential to creating an environment that positions small business to innovative and succeed.

The digital economy has evolved at a rapid pace. With bipartisan support, this dynamic ecosystem thrived under a light-touch regulatory framework. The approach was intentional – allowing the internet to grow into what it is today. But in 2015, President Obama’s FCC reversed course and implemented “Title II,” an unnecessary scheme subjecting internet access services to heavy regulatory burdens.

What happened next? Investments in our digital economy went down by billions and bureaucratic red tape soared. American small business owners and disruptors held back by the burdens of this regulation were among those who paid the price.  The burden especially harmed small internet service providers (ISPs), which provide broadband and internet connections to rural and underserved areas of our country.

Thankfully, the current FCC views Title II as a flawed approach and took action to reverse the damage by advancing the “Restoring Internet Freedom Order.” Freeing the internet ecosystem of suffocating regulation is what will open the doors to greater investment, innovation and opportunities for small business owners, start-ups and entrepreneurs.

However, the fight for internet freedom is not over. Some activists are lobbying hard to reverse course and return to Title II – a framework we know doesn’t work, as it would restore outdated rules that are inappropriate for the modern era. The Senate is expected to vote on a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution in the coming weeks to do just that.

Approving this CRA would be a massive mistake. Instead, our lawmakers on Capitol Hill need to focus on a bipartisan bill that addresses 21st century challenges with common-sense solutions that apply to all players on the internet. This would bring regulatory certainty and parity, which will incentivize investment and put businesses of all sizes in a better position to compete in the digital economy and the global marketplace.

More information:

SBE Council’s Raymond Keating, “4 Reasons Why Restoring Internet Freedom Is Good for Entrepreneurship and Small Business,” December 2017.

SBE Council, “New Video: Sound Internet Policy Essential to Innovation and Small Business Growth,” December 2017.

Karen Kerrigan is president & CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.

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