DESHOTEL: HB 518 Is Louisiana’s Opportunity To Check Big Tech

Editor’s note: a guest post by Rep. Daryl Deshotel, a Republican who represents House District 28 in the Louisiana legislature.

Big tech monopolies and censorship present a growing threat to our culture and political system. Politicians in Washington, D.C. have struggled to address this defining issue of our time, but in Louisiana, we won’t stand for it.

While I am proud to represent the people of Louisiana’s 28th District, I am not a politician. I know what it means to work hard for a living and have spent my life working in the technology industry.

Many years ago, I took a job at a computer company to put myself through Louisiana State University and before I knew it, I was studying full-time and travelling our great state selling computer equipment to schools. I recognized the future was in technology and eventually I was able to start my own business, Detel Computer Solutions, in 1999.

As an entrepreneur, I have been able to create jobs and opportunities in Avoyelles Parish and across Louisiana – one of my proudest accomplishments.

This is why I’m angered by what’s happening to young people and small business owners who are chasing the same success in the tech world today but find huge barriers in their way at the hands of two companies: Apple and Google.

Sound familiar? These monopolistic tech titans have not only tried to silence conservative voices; they are also crushing entrepreneurs by imposing a hefty 30 percent “app tax” on anyone who wants to sell their goods on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

I am a businessman who believes in a free market, but Apple and Google have rigged the rules in their favor and like robber barons, demand a 30 percent cut on every transaction made through their app stores. They enforce this thuggish behavior by forcing developers to use their payment processing systems, meaning small business owners have to absorb the cost and struggle to survive – or pass on higher fees to their customers.

What’s even more pervasive is the fact in-app payment rules force users to hand over sensitive data to Apple and Google, which these Tech Giants can use to enrich their own products, or develop their own competing digital services. Does this sound reasonable to you?

Developers unfortunately have no choice but to give in to these terms because there is nowhere else to go. Anyone with a smartphone knows that the app market is controlled by these two trillion-dollar companies.

That’s why I filed House Bill 518 to put a stop in Louisiana to the in-app purchase racket that Apple and Google have created and give power back to entrepreneurs by allowing them to directly accept payments from customers.

I can’t imagine how hard it would have been to establish my own computer company if Google and Apple were trying to take a huge chunk of my revenue or stand between me and my customers, and I won’t let this happen to other people.

HB 518 will bring much needed jobs and innovation to the Bayou State by attracting more developers to establish their businesses in Louisiana. I know how tech can create employment and opportunities for families because I have lived it.

Conservatives have always fought for deregulation and the rights of business owners and this issue is no different. I am happy to see Republicans and Democrats in Washington finally starting to take on these Silicon Valley giants and turn this into a bipartisan issue.

Apple and Google justify their excessive fees by claiming it provides security and safety on their platforms but it seems like every day there’s a new report about someone being scammed and losing their life savings on a fraudulent app that snuck through the cracks.

We also now know how dangerous these Silicon Valley companies are because they can decide at any time to drop your business from the app store, or destroy it entirely, like Parler.

Apple removed the free-speech platform from the App Store after the Capitol Hill riots, even as Parler executives worked with law enforcement authorities to scrub bad actors from the app. Apple’s reason was offensive content on the website, but if that’s the case, why wasn’t Facebook removed years ago? Because they sell user’s private data.

It’s time to stand up for the small business owner and end this Big Tech dangerous monopoly.

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