Senator Amy Klobuchar’s American Innovation and Choice Online Act is taking center stage in the latest clash between Amazon and forthright critics of Big Tech.
The legislation would prohibit Amazon and similar platforms from giving preference to their own products and unfairly limiting availability of competing products on their platforms. The bill, which currently stands before the U.S. Senate, receives bipartisan support, and although the idea of regulating Big Tech is slightly less popular with Americans than it was last year, more Americans support it than don’t, according to Pew Research.
Not surprisingly, Amazon is not among the bill’s supporters. The Seattle e-commerce giant on Wednesday published a blog post urging senators to reconsider the proposed legislation. It calls out the bill’s targeting of tech giants while highlighting that traditional retailers like Walmart, CVS, and Target would be excluded from the bill’s oversight. The bill’s target of “self-preferencing” practices would cost Amazon billions of dollars in fines, according to the retail giant. Amazon even went so far as to say that fines for breaking these rules “would make it difficult to justify the risk of Amazon offering a marketplace in which selling partners can participate.”
It added that the bill would “substantially degrade the value and quality of Prime,” its paid subscription service, through which customers receive expedited delivery and other benefits.
Critics of the tech giant including Stacy Mitchell, the anti-monopoly advocate and codirector of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, see this potential threat as an “absurd, desperate lie.” Mitchell argues that Amazon’s latest response misleads readers into thinking that Klobuchar’s legislation would hinder a user’s experience on the platform. In a 19-tweet thread, Mitchell described how the bill would rein in Big Tech’s monopolizing practices, arguing that the legislation would force Amazon to fairly compete to handle package delivery, rather than forcing sellers to use Amazon’s delivery services in order to be eligible for Prime.
This confrontation between Big Tech and anti-monopoly advocates comes at a time of intense pressure to pass legislation that would curtail unchecked economic dominance. Despite bipartisan support, Klobuchar’s bill faces a narrow path to victory on Capitol Hill. While the future of this regulation is uncertain, critics and proponents are readying their arguments in hopes of either keeping things the way they are or reigning in the power of some of the world’s largest companies.