Amazon fights antitrust in the United States while conceding it in Europe

Image from article titled Amazon is funding an antitrust group in the US as it offers concessions to EU antitrust regulators

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Amazon Talk about on both sides of his mouth. In Europe, it offers concessions to antitrust regulators. In the United States, it’s shady funding lobbyists hoping to kill antitrust legislation.

On the other side of the pond, the company partially relented in response to a years-long antitrust investigation by the European Commission and, in an effort to settle the investigation, offered a raft of concessions intended to standardize the rules of the game between the mastodon and the third-party sellers on its platform. Waiting here in the Sstates, Bloomberg reported that the very The same company had secretly paid nearly $1 million to an advocacy group that has spent the past few months lobbying right-wing lawmakers against — you guessed it — antitrust action. The group, The Competitiveness Coalition, presents itself as relying on grassroots support despite Bezos’ bankroll. The company did not immediately respond to request for comment, nor did the Coalition.

If nothing else, Amazon gives us a pretty clear picture of how it thinks about the many antitrust complaints in the United States that are directed at it. at presentincluding an fast forward the antitrust bill. Judging by its lobbyist funding, Amazon believes the bill is a threat that can be neutralized. This bill-The US Innovation and Online Choice Act-would have carry the mandate require that Amazon not promote its own services in a way that prevents rivals, third parties, or the platform’s own sellers from competing.

Amazon was caught doing just that some time over the yearswhich is probably why the company is currently spending piles of money trying to convince lawmakers that the Innovation and Choice Act is a kind of foreign psyop.

Literally. The Competitiveness Coalition, the Conservative advocacy group detailed in Thursday’s Bloomberg article and led by a former Republican senator, reportedly urged lawmakers to reject the bill in a letter saying, “To pass this measure when our economy is on the verge of recession and China continues to hound us is like lighting a match next to a gas leak.”

Like the American authorities, the European Commission has has also taken steps on this issue and has opened a formal investigation into Amazon’s use of its merchant data back in 2019. These turned into formal accusations about a year laterthe Commission accusing Amazon of some familiar wrongdoings: the platform, the Commission said, was abusing his role as a marketplace owner and a retailer vying for part of that same market. And during this investigation, which lasted for years, the Commission claims to have found two specific examples: the so-called “Buy the box” that shoppers see on every Amazon product page, which allegedly “to favor unduly[s] Amazon’s own retail business. The second product was Prime, which the Commission found inadvertently biased towards sellers using Amazon’s internal logistics services.

Amazon has not responded to these claims by making the same kind of deviation dance we’ve seen some business here in the US, or at least not as much. A spokesperson says TechCrunch that despite the company’s “serious concerns” of being unfairly targeted by EU authorities, it “has engaged constructively with the Commission to address their concerns and safeguard our ability to serve the European customers” anyway. The potential concessions indicate that Amazon believes the EU investigation has teeth, teeth that could hurt its business.

To address these concerns, Amazon said it could Craft some compromises: the company would undertake toas a baseline, “refrain from using non-public data relating to, or derived from, the activities of independent sellers in its marketplace, for its retail business in competition with such sellers.When it comes to the Buy Box, Amazon has pledged to “apply equal treatment to all sellers” in its systems that decide which seller is featured at any given time. Amazon also noted that it will add a second such box for certain products, meaning sellers would be twice as likely to appear in front of an Amazon user who is window shopping.

To ease Prime’s concerns, Amazon promised to let its third-party sellers offer fast Prime delivery times, whether or not those sellers also use Amazon’s logistics to get their products delivered.

It would be a small victory, of course. But when you come from a country where this company is the definition from the weasley handbookeven something so small is worth celebrating.

Mary I. Bruner