Chamber of Commerce president warns against growing 'techlash'

Chamber of Commerce president warns against growing 'techlash'
© Greg Nash

Thomas Donohue, the president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, warned against the growing skepticism of technology giants on Wednesday, arguing that the businesses are vital for growth and innovation.

In his 2018 “State of American Business Address,” Donohue said it’s important not to overregulate an industry that is “improving people’s everyday lives.”

“This is especially important as a backlash against major tech companies is gaining strength — both at home and abroad, and among consumers and governments alike,” he said, according to a transcript of his prepared remarks.

“We must be careful that this 'techlash' doesn’t result in broad regulatory overreach that stifles innovation and stops positive advancements in their tracks.”

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Internet giants like Facebook, Google and Twitter have been under fire in the past year over questions about whether they enabled Russia’s disinformation campaign during the 2016 presidential race.

The companies have also faced questions about their size and power. Last summer, the European Union hit Google with a record $2.9 billion fine for anticompetitive search practices, prompting some U.S. critics to call for a similar crackdown on this side of the Atlantic.

But Donohue argued that the internet giants’ growth has benefited the U.S. economy.

“Technology is not a single, all-powerful industry,” he said. “It is now a part of every industry. It will continue to change the way we work, communicate, and live — at a rapidly accelerating pace. Even with these changes, technological advancement is an opportunity, not a threat.”