Amazon is preparing to defend itself against the’s allegedly anti-competitive business practices in the areas of Congress, federal agencies and state government.
The trading giant is expanding its legal team by hiring former federal prosecutors and regulators to fill roles that include protecting the company from allegations that it is unfairly dominating markets. The company has revised its public messages to reduce its role as the world’s largest online retailer. It has also sought to elevate its image in Washington by spending more on federal lobbying than ever before.
Together, these steps can be read as Amazon puts a shield against close antitrust control, said Margaret O’Mara, a technology historian at the University of Washington.
Amazon is against the criticism that it is too big. The company operates in an “unusually competitive” global retail market with a “diverse range of businesses,” said Dan Perlett, a spokesman for the company.
President Biden has taken a tougher line on corporate governance issues than recent Democratic presidents. He issued a statement in which many were interpreted as supporting the trade union drive of Amazon employees in Bessemer, Ala, he’s trained well-known Big Tech critics in key positions in federal agencies, warning that the administration could try to contain Amazon’s economic shocks :
The company faces challenges from both the House of Representatives and the states. Legislation that will reform some aspects of antitrust law is enacted through the Senate. Members of the House Antimonopoly Subcommittee are expected to present their own bills in the coming months.
Behind the scenes, Amazon has added at least 10 former federal antitrust lawyers and economists, most of whom have previously worked for the federal government for at least a decade, according to a review of LinkedIn profiles by the former Revolving nonprofit watchdog group. Door design.
The six have been with the company since at least 2019, including Nate Sutton, who joined Amazon’s regulatory legal team in 2016, 10 years later as a Justice Department (DOJ) antitrust lawyer. Lawmakers spoke briefly about launching an investigation into Sutton last year after his congressional testimony about Amazon’s business practices appeared to contradict details of a report in last year’s House Antitrust Committee that said they were referring to Amazon. Anti-competitive business practices of Google, Apple և Facebook.
Amazon’s rental rate accelerated when a thorough study of Amazon’s business practice intensified. The company has hired five top-tier leases in the DOJ 44 in the last four months of last year with 44 years of joint experience with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Amazon is currently seeking to hire more lawyers in Seattle, Virginia, to “advise the company on a wide range of cutting-edge business risk management issues,” including antitrust, according to the March 19-January job list. 21. Amazon’s preferred “basic qualification” for roles includes former government service.
The company also has two open positions for economists on the antitrust team. Amazon is “looking for an economist to help develop economic models – evidence to support legal – regulatory issues in all areas of our business,” the list said. Preferred qualifications include experience in “regulatory or close employment” and “complex business litigation, particularly on antitrust issues”.
Amazon’s antitrust teams have grown more slowly than the overall company, Perlett said. The company added nearly 450,000 employees worldwide last year, mostly in its warehouses, as the epidemic demanded juice for online shopping.
In addition to internal staff, Amazon has provided external assistance advising on antitrust issues.
Advocates for Covington & Burling, whose antitrust practice boasts a deep bench of former FTC և DOJ antitrust staff, represented Bezos during his testimony before the House Antitrust Commission last summer. Amazon also eavesdropped on Fiona Scott Morton, a leading antitrust expert and critic of Big Tech, for advising the company on the eve of the hearing.
In 2020, Amazon spent $ 18.7 million to flirt with federal officials, more than any other company except Facebook և more than Amazon has ever spent in a year lobbying on activities.
As the company expands, so does the lobbying trail. Last year, Amazon lobbied federal officials on a number of topics, including COVID-19, data privacy, drones, and veteran employment.
Amazon has also spent significant resources lobbying members of Congress, the DOJ, the FTC, and former President Trump on competition issues, which shows the lobbying disclosure. Since the summer of 2019, it has involved three companies – Lobard Partners, Subject Matter և Akin Gump – in lobbying, including competition policy. The company has sent many of its employees to do the same from at least 2017. And since 2016, Amazon has paid $ 120,000 a year in DOJ antitrust litigation to Seth Bloom for lobbying the administration solely on antitrust issues.
Since the release of the House antitrust report last fall, Amazon has told the media that it has a relatively small share of the overall retail market, including physical stores, although it has become the dominant e-commerce retailer. It also tried to present itself as a small business promoter. Last year, for the first time, Amazon did not announce the earnings of its own holiday season. Instead, he reported sales of third-party vendors on his Marketplace platform.
Amazon executives have also stepped up their ties with the Biden administration, resonating with policy issues, including support for the $ 15 federal minimum wage. Amazon CEO Jay Carney is Obama’s former aide to Biden. His Twitter account features a photo of Biden wrapped around Carney’s neck.
Despite his efforts in Washington to express his gratitude, Amazon is clearly finding its current reception there to be more poisonous than it was in the Obama era.
Biden’s recent appointees are skeptical of the power of large technology companies. Lina Khan, who wrote the influential 2017 treatise proposing a review of antitrust laws that will give the government more power over Amazon’s business, has been nominated by the FTC to apply federal antitrust laws. Columbia University law professor Tim Woo, known for criticizing the power of huge communities like the Amazon as “gross inequality, causing material suffering,” has been appointed as the president’s adviser on technology and competition policy.
In the Senate, Amy Klobuchar, D-Min., Introduced antitrust legislation that, among other reforms, would make it harder for dominant companies to approve mergers. In recent months, government buildings have enacted new laws to restrict access to large technology companies, and state attorneys are investigating antitrust claims against Amazon.
At the same time, the Chamber’s Antitrust Subcommittee is considering changes that could increase the enforcement of antitrust agencies.
Democrats and Republicans largely agree that companies like Amazon have gained too much market power, said Pramila Ay Ayapal of Seattle, who was elected deputy chairman of the subcommittee last month.
“Amazon’s business lines give [the company] “Competitive advantage by allowing them to buy, acquire and kill the competition,” said Ay Ayapal in an interview.
Media LC Reports արդյուն Subcommittee’s results show that Amazon uses third-party vendor data on its Marketplace platform to develop its own products for sellers dependent on Amazon’s website and logistics services. Amazon has denied allegations that it uses marketplace sales data from individual sellers, but the company is examining aggregate data to report the creation of its own brands.
Lawmakers are “looking for ways we can ensure that companies like Amazon can not use competitors’ data,” said Ay Ayapal. This could mean new legislation or a rule banning companies like Amazon from competing in the same customer markets, in this case selling products on Amazon.com to promote their own products in search results, or excluding sellers from preferential shipping deals. advertisement
There are also offers on the table that prevent major tech companies from using their dominance in one segment to compete in adjacent segments, which could prevent Amazon from selling products under more than 45 private label brands, whether on Amazon.com or one. on another site.
Those more covert proposals are unlikely to be accepted, says Jack E. Kirkwood, a professor of antitrust law at the University of Seattle.
“Divisions of large firms are rare,” he said. “It will frustrate consumers if you can’t afford Amazon batteries or anything.”
But there is bipartisan support for more funding, such as funding from antitrust agencies such as the FTC, which launched an investigation into Amazon’s 2019 relationship with third-party vendors on its platform.
“The tech titans have used their dominant positions to raise rents, misuse third-party data, steal intellectual property, create barriers to entry, and hold power for decades to come,” wrote Ken Buck, R-Colo, of the House of Representatives. A member of the Antimonopoly Committee, in last year’s Minorities Report on Technology Hearings. “Antitrust enforcement agencies need additional resources և tools to ensure proper oversight.”
“The antitrust process obviously has a moment,” said Bloom, a recent DOJ antitrust lawsuit filed at Amazon in a recent field of view. “We have Republicans as condemners, if not more so as Democrats.” “While many Republicans’ interest in antitrust reform focuses on how Big Tech is said to censor conservative votes, ‘whatever their motives, it makes them strong antitrust advocates,'” he said.