Amazon Ramps Up Criticism of Tough Antitrust Bill in Congress
WASHINGTON — Industry criticism of a tough antitrust bill to crack down on the market dominance of tech giants is growing more shrill as it heads for a vote in Congress as soon as this month.
The latest salvo was Wednesday, when an Amazon.com executive warned in a blog post that the American Innovation and Choice Online Act would slow deliveries and degrade the quality of service for the online retailer’s customers.
The bill would ban major tech firms like Amazon and Google from favoring their products over their competitors. It would impose heavy fines on them if they gave preference to their own products in online sales.
Days earlier, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce also criticized the bill as unfair to some of America’s most productive companies.
The criticisms are part of a media blitz to stave off what Big Tech says is a bill that unfairly targets them while leaving more traditional retailers like Walmart, Target and Costco nearly untouched.
The bill “jeopardizes two of the things American consumers love most about Amazon: the vast selection and low prices made possible by opening our store to third-party selling partners, and the promise of fast, free shipping through Amazon Prime,” the Amazon blog post says.
Lead sponsors of the American Innovation and Choice Online Act are Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. They said it is intended to rein in the biggest technology companies that wield their market dominance in a way that squelches any potential competition.
“American prosperity was built on a foundation of open markets and fair competition, but right now our country faces a monopoly problem, and American consumers, workers and businesses are paying the price,” Klobuchar said when the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill in January.
Grassley said, “Our legislation sets out to level the playing field for small businesses and entrepreneurs who need to operate on these platforms, as well as benefit the consumers that use them.”
Amazon predicted the bill would backfire by causing more harm than good.
“Were this legislation to become law, it would substantially degrade the value and quality of Prime, as many of the products sold in our store today with Prime’s one- to two-day delivery promise would be undeliverable in that time frame,” the blog post said. “This degradation of the Prime experience would materially hurt not just Amazon (which is what we believe to be the real, unstated goal of the legislation), but, more importantly, every American consumer and small business that currently relies on the Prime service.”
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said the bill was “misguided” in a letter it wrote to Senate leaders this week. It added that it would “be an overhaul of the American economy, one sector at a time.”
The Computer & Communications Industry Association joined in criticisms of the bill.