Amazon says proposed antitrust bills will have ‘significant negative effects’ on sellers, consumers

An Amazon headquarters tower reflected in the Spheres in Seattle. (GeekWire File Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

Amazon responded Tuesday to proposed antitrust legislation introduced by members of the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month, saying that the bills “would have significant negative effects” on businesses that sell on Amazon and consumers who shop there.

The Seattle-based tech giant released a statement on its website from Brian Huseman, the company’s vice president of Public Policy, in which he said the House Antitrust Subcommittee was “moving unnecessarily fast in pushing these bills forward.”

The legislation was first unveiled on June 11 and could change the way large tech companies such as Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook do business and dominate their respective marketplaces.

The five bills would create a framework to dismantle large tech companies into smaller ones (Amazon and Amazon Web Services, for example); to make mergers more expensive and difficult; to break up businesses that use their dominance in one area to get a stronghold in another; and to stop companies that create purportedly open marketplaces and only to game it to favor their own products.

The sweeping package from House Democrats and Republicans comes after months of study and congressional inquiries about the enormous power and financial reach of Big Tech and the existing regulation to curtail it. As the New York Times noted, “Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google have a combined market capitalization of $6.3 trillion, four times more than the value of the country’s 10 largest banks.”

Seattle Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, vice chair of the antitrust subcommittee, introduced the Ending Platform Monopolies Act that would allow the federal government to sue to force the big four tech companies to sell off lines of business deemed a “conflict of interest.”

“This isn’t about Amazon,” Jayapal told The Seattle Times this week. “This is about the monopoly powers of the Big Four tech companies. It’s an irresistible urge for companies that are operating on multiple platforms with conflicts of interest and competing business to use power in ways that will suppress competition.”

Here is the complete Amazon statement:

“We are still analyzing the bills, but from what we can tell so far, we believe they would have significant negative effects on the hundreds of thousands of American small- and medium-sized businesses that sell in our store, and tens of millions of consumers who buy products from Amazon. More than a half million American small- and medium-sized businesses make a living via Amazon’s marketplace, and without access to Amazon’s customers, it will be much harder for these third-party sellers to create awareness for their business and earn a comparable income. Removing the selection of these sellers from Amazon’s store would also create less price competition for products, and likely end up increasing prices for consumers. The Committee is moving unnecessarily fast in pushing these bills forward. We encourage Chairman Cicilline and committee members to slow down, postpone the markup, and thoroughly vet the language in the bills for unintended negative consequences.”

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