By Reuters | Updated: 1 June 2022
Amazon.com on Wednesday lambasted a bill in Congress barring tech giants from giving preference to their own businesses on their websites, saying it unfairly singles the retailer out while not subjecting rivals to similar regulations.
The Senate could vote on the bill as early as this month, media outlets have reported. The measure passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in January, despite hefty lobbying from top executives like Apple chief executive Tim Cook. It also passed the House Judiciary Committee last year.
Amazon said in a blog post that 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.”
It argued the bill only targets one retailer, Amazon, by requiring a market value of at least $550 billion (roughly Rs. 42,63,100 crore) to qualify for regulation and that rivals like Walmart, Target and CVS were excluded.
“In 2021, Walmart had annual revenues of $559 billion (roughly Rs. 43,32,800 crore), nearly $90 billion (roughly Rs. 6,97,599 crore) more than Amazon,” it added. “But Walmart is excluded despite also being a large retailer that allows small businesses to sell in its online marketplace.”
Senators Amy Klobuchar and Chuck Grassley, who co-sponsored the measure called the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, say the measure is necessary to protect small businesses. The bill has received the backing of small business groups such as the Main Street Alliance and Small Business Rising.
Amazon argued the bill could harm the hundreds of thousands of small businesses that sell goods on its website as its large fines for violations “would make it difficult to justify the risk of Amazon offering a marketplace in which selling partners can participate.”
It said the bill would mandate “Amazon allow other logistics providers to fulfill Prime orders” and could make it “potentially impossible in practice, for Amazon and our selling partners to offer products with Prime’s” free two-day shipping.
Big tech firms including Meta Platforms’ Facebook and Apple, have been under pressure in Congress amid allegations they have abused their outsized market power. A long list of bills have been proposed to rein them in, but none have become law.
© Thomson Reuters 2022