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Amazon, Google retail rivals throw weight behind antitrust probes of tech giants

The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) penned a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Sunday commending the antitrust probes from the FTC and the Department of Justice. 

The RILA includes retailers like Walmart, Target and Best Buy, and in the letter, the group shared their concerns about big tech companies like Amazon and Google. 

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“We believe the Commission must focus on ensuring that competition among retailers actually benefits consumers, rather than seeing those benefits stifled by dominant players and persistent oligopolies in other parts of the retail ecosystem like digital marketplaces, technology platforms, payment networks, or telecommunications platforms,” the letter states. 

The letter also says that the RILA is also concerned about how tech companies are allowed to use data that influences consumers, specifically when it comes to pricing. 

“It should thus be quite concerning to the Commission that Amazon and Google control the majority of all of Internet product search, and can very easily affect whether and how price and product information actually reaches consumers,” the RILA wrote.

The letter comes only weeks since the FTC and the Department of Justice announced split efforts to scrutinize Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google on antitrust grounds. President Donald Trump also voiced his concerns about big tech last week, saying that the government should bring lawsuits against big tech giants. 

Breaking up big tech—or at least the idea of regulating them—is on the forefront of politics lately, but the issue is nothing new. 

Mark McCareins, a clinical professor in the strategy department at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, compared current big tech fear to the government’s fear of Walmart around a decade ago. 

“When Walmart was really cooking, everybody including Congress was talking about how we need to regulate Walmart since they were getting too big and were squeezing out mom and pop businesses,” he said. “While people were thinking about that, the market changed and now Amazon is the new Walmart.”

McCareins said we need to be asking the question of what Amazon will look like in the next five to 10 years, and also, “Who will be the next Amazon?” 

“We want to encourage companies to innovate and change and bring new technologies to folks, and that’s exactly what these companies have done,” he said. 

Still, the RILA made it clear that they aren’t complaining about the competition companies like Amazon and Google have created against brick and mortar retailers, but rather, to make sure that the competition is “on a fair and level playing field.”

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