A leading U.S. retail group, whose members include Walmart, Target, Best Buy and others, has penned a letter to the Federal Trade Commission that details its concerns over big tech companies’ dominance. From a report: The letter specifically calls out Amazon and Google for their control over the majority of internet product searches, how price and product information reaches consumers and other concerns. The letter, written by The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), urges the FTC to take a closer look at the big tech platforms. The group also offers to help in any antitrust investigations. “It should…be quite concerning to the Commission that Amazon and Google control the majority of all Internet product search, and can very easily affect whether and how price and product information actually reaches consumers,” write the RILA. “Moreover, these firms are extraordinarily adept at determining how small changes in the way in which information is conveyed affect consumer behavior — given that nearly everything they do is driven by big-data science and machine learning models,” the letter continues.
“To put the matter as simply as possible, a firm does not need to have the power to control prices if it has the power to control effective access to price information,” it says. The RILA says it understands the consumer benefits to e-commerce, in that it provides fast and efficient access to products at a scale that exceeds what’s possible in the physical realm. But it also presents their case where the major tech firms are called out as “bottleneck technology platforms,” where information about products is not transparently shared with consumers.