Walmart, Target, Best Buy and others sent a 10 page letter to the Federal Trade Commission on June 30, asking for an investigation into Amazon and Google for antitrust violations. Business Insider says the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) was attempting to “capitalize on the growing hostility towards big tech in Washington D.C.”
The letter expressed concern that “Amazon and Google control the majority of all of Internet product search,” affecting price, product information, and customer reach, and hurting business for these retail companies.
RILA also wrote that Amazon is “degrading the consumer experience” by “pretending to sell directly from trusted brands.” In reality, Amazon’s merchandise is actually being “sold on by third-party sellers.”
The group also has concerns about Amazon’s anticompetitive use of sales data. As a common practice, Amazon gets sales data from third parties, and then uses that data to sell its own products. This brings “clear antitrust concerns because of the unique characteristics of such a platform.”
Presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has voiced her antitrust concerns saying, “Amazon’s role as both marketplace and vendor is a prime reason for breaking up Jeff Bezos’ company.”
Senator Ted Cruz has also weighed in on the issue saying that, “the big tech companies are larger and more powerful than the Standard Oil was when it was broken up. They’re larger and more powerful than AT&T when it was broken up.” Their control over the market brings about several antitrust issues.
Antitrust scholars at the University of Chicago say “By selling logistics services to many of its sellers, Amazon gains an advantage when it wishes to launch a store brand. It can analyze data from its rivals to develop an entry plan against those sellers.” This is an anticompetitive practice.
In June, it was reported that “the FTC and the Department of Justice have divided up the big tech companies between them for antitrust scrutiny.” The FTC will investigate Facebook and Amazon, and the Justice Department will look into Google and Apple.
When contacted by Business Insider Google and Amazon were “not immediately available for comment.”