‘Amazon Now Has Monopoly Power in Online Commerce’

Stacey Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, dishes up a dystopian glimpse of our corporatist-control future, describing Amazon's takeover of Whole Foods.

Amazon now has, I think what’s safe to say, monopoly power in online commerce. The company is capturing about one out of every two dollars that Americans spend online.

And Amazon uses that power in ways that thwart competition, and bring more and more of a share of business to itself.

We are rapidly moving toward a situation where much of our retail and buying is going to be digitally driven, and we are facing the prospect of a single company dominating that trade.

…data is one of the big market advantages that Amazon has. It has an enormous amount of data on all of us: what we browse for, what we buy, what we don’t buy, how long our mouse hovers over something, what we are doing online when we’re not even shopping on Amazon, what we’re watching on AmazonPrimeAmazon uses that data in very strategic and one might say predatory ways to manipulate its competitors, but also to manipulate us.

Amazon’s very eager to begin to track us, not only online but in the physical world. And just this week, there were new reports about patents that Amazon has filed for technologies that would enable it to track us in its stores, and actually block our phones from accessing competitors’ websites, and otherwise manipulating the prices and information that we’re able to get in those stores. So that’s one of the ways that buying Whole Foods would give Amazon even more power in its online market.

... Amazon—by squeezing out competing businesses, by squeezing its suppliers, by reducing the incomes of producers, ultimately Amazon is creating a market where there’s a lot less opportunity for all of us to make a decent living.

And, in fact, there is a new body of economic research, just in the last few years, that has found that the consolidation that we’re seeing across the economy—airlines, retail, media, all these different sectors—is in fact deeply linked to rising levels of inequality. The reason that so many of us can’t make a decent living has to do with this corporate consolidation. There’s growing profits going to a small number of folks at the top. [emphasis mine]

I guess it's just a coincidence that corporate monopoly is eating online trade at the same time that corporate power is taking over the government.

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Replies to This Discussion

I read about that patent referred to in the pink highlight; if you're using a store's free wifi, they can filter and block your access to competing shopping sites.

One bit of self-defense: script blockers such as NoScript can defeat a lot of that data collection, "what we browse for... what we are doing online when we're not even shopping on Amazon [transmitted through ad networks]... how long our mouse hovers over something..."

(Another way to block some data collection: if you use a smartphone, keep location access OFF except when you're using something like a map or navigation app that really needs it.)

And it's not a coincidence that corporations are continuing to grab as much power and short-term profit as possible, by any means available!

Thanks for the extra information and hints about self-defense.

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