US retailers are asking the FTC to go after Google and Amazon

Alyssa Clementi

This week, The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), which includes representation from Walmart, Target and Best Buy, wrote a 10-page letter to the Federal Trade Commission, highlighting antitrust concerns over big tech companies. RILA claimed that tech giants like Amazon, Google, and Facebook need to be more strictly monitored when it comes to market dominance, and that FTC should adapt more antitrust laws to limit these types of competitors.

“Leading retailers believe the FTC has a responsibility to protect consumers by ensuring that competition exists throughout the retail ecosystem. RILA does not file this comment to complain about competition from Facebook, Google, Amazon, Visa, or any other technology or payments platform. Indeed, retail leaders comment to ask for more competition, not less. New approaches are necessary to ensure that access to information empowers, rather than manipulates, consumers as they navigate an economy dominated by a handful of giant tech platforms,” said Nicholas Ahrens, RILA vice president of innovation.

In the letter, RILA said it should be “quite concerning to the Commission” that both Amazon and Google are leading search engines for online consumers and that both these companies can “very easily affect whether and how price and product information actually reaches customers.” RILA also pointed out that Amazon is not only collecting third-party data on consumers, but then using that data to sell its own products, which is an extreme concern to antitrust and anticompetition laws.

“Modern antitrust investigation and enforcement needs to be driven by a greater recognition that control over information can drive anti-competitive effects just as much as market power and price control,” said Ahrens.

Ahrens continued, “The Commission should consider rules or enforcement actions requiring such bottleneck technology platforms to convey information to consumers in ways that are transparent and do not mislead consumers about where products come from, whether they are new or used, whether their sale by a given retailer is authorized, and how the total price from one seller compares to the prices charged by others.”

The letter concluded with Ahrens reiterating that more action needs to be taken by the FTC to regulate big tech companies who seem to be partaking in antitrust activities, and that the RILA is “here to help”.