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Amazon warns sellers of harm from congressional antitrust bills

The retail giant says proposed reforms could have a "significant negative effect" on businesses that sell on its platform.

Laura Hautala
Laura Hautala
Laura Hautala Former Senior Writer
Laura wrote about e-commerce and Amazon, and she occasionally covered cool science topics. Previously, she broke down cybersecurity and privacy issues for CNET readers. Laura is based in Tacoma, Washington, and was into sourdough before the pandemic.
Expertise E-commerce, Amazon, earned wage access, online marketplaces, direct to consumer, unions, labor and employment, supply chain, cybersecurity, privacy, stalkerware, hacking. Credentials
  • 2022 Eddie Award for a single article in consumer technology
Laura Hautala
2 min read

Laws aimed at regulating Amazon will hurt small and medium businesses, the e-commerce giant warned merchants in emails.


Amazon is raising alarms about a group of bills moving through Congress, warning some companies that sell on the retail giant's marketplace that the proposed legislation could hurt them. As reported earlier by CNBC, the companies were urged to learn more by getting in touch with policy experts working for Amazon.

"We are concerned that they could potentially have significant negative effects on small and medium-sized businesses like yours that sell in our store," the company said in the emails. 

Amazon confirmed the emails to CNET and told CNBC that it's received inquiries from sellers since lawmakers introduced a package of legislation aimed at regulating big tech companies like Amazon. In response to a request for comment, Amazon directed CNET to a statement given in June by Brian Huseman, Amazon's vice president of public policy.

"More than a half million American small- and medium-sized businesses make a living via Amazon's marketplace, and without access to Amazon's customers, it will be much harder for these third-party sellers to create awareness for their business and earn a comparable income," Huseman said at the time.

Amazon didn't immediately respond to a request to specify how the bills would remove access to customers from third-party vendors selling on Amazon. The lawmakers who introduced the bills, including Rep. David Cicilline, a Democrat from Rhode Island, and Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat from the district in Washington where Amazon is headquartered, have said the bills aim to increase competition and make the internet a more level playing field for small and medium businesses.

The emails come as major tech companies face the prospect of increased antitrust regulation on several fronts, including the antitrust bills introduced by a bipartisan group of lawmakers. Two of the bills could directly affect Amazon's relationship with third-party sellers by restricting the e-commerce giant from requiring merchants to buy Amazon products to improve search results or otherwise receive access to the company's marketplace. 

Additionally, the US Federal Trade Commission is now chaired by Lina Khan, an antitrust reformer who's written extensively on how laws meant to promote competition should be applied more broadly to the tech sector. Amazon and Facebook have both filed requests that Khan be recused from ongoing investigations into their businesses' practices.

Third-party sales brought in more revenue for Amazon than the company's own retail efforts in the quarter that ended in June, according to filings with the SEC, making it a significant part of the company's business.