A group of African-American publishers says a Democrat-backed antitrust bill could decimate black-owned businesses.
The National Newspaper Publishers Association, a network of African-American newspaper publishers, wrote a letter Tuesday to the Congressional Black Caucus that advocated against Sen. Amy Klobuchar's (D., Minn.) American Innovation and Choice Online Act. The bill would prevent big tech companies such as Amazon, Facebook, and Google from prioritizing their own services in ads and search results. Dr. Benjamin Chavis Jr., president of the NNPA, notes in the letter, however, the bill could put an end to search tools that allow users to support black-owned businesses.
While the bill is "well-intentioned," "some of the proposed reforms go too far and could hamper the ability for black and minority-owned small businesses and publishers to grow and thrive, especially as we navigate this pandemic," Chavis wrote. "The antitrust legislation aimed at curbing tech companies may unintendedly silence the voices of black community news, harming the small businesses we run and the communities we serve."
Klobuchar's bill advanced in the Senate Judiciary Committee in January with complete support from Democrats and split support from Republicans. The bill would prevent Amazon from promoting its own products through its Prime membership. Some small businesses have argued the language is too vague about how to promote fair business practices and could wreck online shopping platforms that have become essential during the pandemic.
The NNPA said Google's search tools for small businesses, which could be banned if the bill is passed, have helped grow traffic for black-owned businesses by 600 percent. The NNPA represents more than 200 newspapers in the country with a readership of roughly 15 million.
The group also sent the letter to Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) and House majority whip Jim Clyburn (D., S.C.). Neither of the congressmen nor the Congressional Black Caucus responded to a request for comment.