Small businesses are an essential part of Oklahoma’s bustling economy. Many of these businesses are built on digital tools provided by Google that are designed to help them reach their local audiences and continue to expand. As Why Not OK is learning, proposed new tech regulations could have unintended consequences for many of these local businesses.
The US House Judiciary Committee advanced a controversial package in June 2021 that could now disrupt how businesses use Google Ads, Google My Business, Google Maps, and much more to promote their products and services. Now, a legislative proposal that pushes a similar agenda has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). A synopsis of that legislation was released by Sen. Klobuchar and is available to the public.
Google Fights Back Against Proposed Legislation
Since their inception, Google has expressed its concerns about these legislative efforts and the unintended consequences that they will have on businesses nationwide. While they have spearheaded the effort to fight back, they have gained support from many other prominent organizations, including the Connected Commerce Council and the US Chamber of Commerce.
In a Tweet, Google announced that they “operate in a fast-moving, rapidly changing, competitive industry that pushes us to improve our services for consumers constantly.” Within the Twitter thread, they explain that they are not opposed to antitrust scrutiny or updated regulations, but they encourage the House to instead look at the real issues. If the tech regulations are successful, many of the free tools that Google provides to businesses would be broken overnight.
Based on the evidence provided by Google, the main difference will be the removal of “rich search results.” Google currently has a structured data format that incorporates reviews, map listings, and more from its own sources. If this legislation were to pass, the key difference is that search results would revert to a standard series of blue links – a popular format in 1998. However, tech leaders argue that this could be solved by drawing rich search results from other local info providers to bypass the Ending Platform Monopolies Act.
What Consequences Could Tech Regulations Have on Oklahoma’s Small Businesses?
If these bills are successful, they could cost Oklahoma businesses time and money and might drastically alter their exposure to local customers. One of the most obvious ways this will manifest is by forcing the elimination of business listings on Google Search and Maps. These listings will often provide directions, a contact phone number, and business hours. This argument is at the core of Google's fight against the proposed tech legislation.
According to the company, in addition to the loss of business listings, many other Google tools will also suffer. Under this legislation, Google Ads will also be disconnected from Google Analytics to increase consumer privacy, leading to data being used for unlawful purposes. The company also argues that Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Docs would also be disjointed and will no longer work together. Google has stressed that their public policy team is working closely with Congress and their staff members to paint a clearer picture of the lasting impacts that these legislative efforts would have on the US economy and the millions of small businesses they benefit from, including those in Oklahoma. As the bill progresses, Google plans to create opportunities for small business owners to make their voices heard. All updates thus far have been outlined on Google’s platform.
Why Not Oklahoma Can Help Improve Local Visibility
While Congress is working to limit the amount of exposure small businesses can achieve, Why Not Oklahoma is building a better way for customers to find and support local businesses. We encourage you to claim your free listing to counteract these looming changes if you are an Oklahoma business owner. Together we can ensure that Oklahoma’s economy remains strong, and our communities continue to grow.