Amazon and Facebook parent company Meta spent more money in 2021 lobbying lawmakers and officials than any year before, according to lobbying disclosure filings.
Amazon spent $20.3 million on lobbying while Meta spent $20.1 million in 2021, according to a review of lobbying disclosure filings by MarketWatch. The figures are record totals for both tech companies, who spent $18.9 million and $19.7 million on lobbying in 2020, respectively.
Google’s lobbying spend for 2021 clocked in at $11.5 million, while Microsoft spent $10.3 million and Apple spent $6.5 million, according to MarketWatch’s review.
Amazon employees in Bessemer, Alabama, are set to hold a second union vote after the first election was deemed illegal, a federal labor agency said Tuesday.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced that workers at the Bessemer warehouse would vote again on whether to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) on Feb. 4. The second vote comes almost a year after the first election in which Amazon employees overwhelmingly rejected the proposal to join the RWDSU.
Following the unsuccessful unionization bid, labor organizers demanded a new vote, alleging that Amazon improperly placed the election ballot box on company property, which the union argued was a form of intimidation. The union also alleged that Amazon threatened warehouse workers with messages saying the facility might close or they might lose benefits if the union vote succeeded.
Amazon and Google are lobbying small businesses who use their services to oppose antitrust bills aimed at breaking up major tech companies, enlisting them to pressure lawmakers, Politico reported.
The companies are conducting a public relations campaign in an effort to drum up opposition to antitrust legislation proposed in the Senate, including a bill sponsored by Republican Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley and Democratic Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar that goes after companies like Amazon and Google for prioritizing their own services in online shopping platforms, according to Politico.
The tech giants are using email campaigns, Zoom calls and online petitions, to spread the message that the bills would harm small businesses that rely on their platforms, Politico reported. Several technology trade groups, including the Connected Commerce Council, are also working to encourage small businesses to oppose the legislation.
Over half of the states in the U.S. will institute a minimum wage increase in 2022, according to a report.
A total of 26 states will raise the minimum wage in 2022, with 22 of the states starting the pay hikes on Jan. 1, accordingto payroll experts at Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory U.S.
“These minimum wage increases indicate moves toward ensuring a living wage for people across the country,” Deirdre Kennedy, senior payroll analyst at Wolters Kluwer, said in the report. “In addition to previously approved incremental increases, the change in presidential administration earlier this year and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic have also contributed to these changes.”
Amazon stopped offering customer ratings and reviews of books sold in China at the request of the Chinese Communist Party, according to a Reuters investigation.
The Chinese government ordered Amazon to stop allowing customers to review books following less-than-perfect ratings of a collection of President Xi Jinping’s writings, Reuters reported, citing two people familiar with the matter. Amazon partnered with a state-owned firm called China International Book Trading Corp (CIBTC) and created a portal, which it called China Books, that promotes Chinese Communist Party material and forbids negative reviews.
Amazon removed Daily Wire host Matt Walsh’s children’s book, “Johnny the Walrus,” from its LGBTQ+ bestseller list on Friday.
Walsh’s book reached the top spot on Amazon’s LGBTQ+ bestseller list last weekend, according to the Daily Wire. However, as of Friday, the book can no longer be seen on the list at all, apparently having been removed.
“Amazon has removed my bestselling LGBT children’s book from their LGBT book list. This is an unconscionable attack on gay rights and a horrific example of homophobia and gay erasure,” Walsh posted on Twitter on Friday morning.
An Italian regulator hit Amazon with a massive fine Thursday over alleged anti-competitive business practices.
The Italian Competition Authority issued the $1.3 billion penalty after the results of its investigation into Amazon concluded the online marketplace favored third-party vendors who use Amazon’s shipping and logistics services, the regulator announced in a press release Thursday. The Authority alleged that Amazon boosted the presence of vendors that used its services on its site as a way to increase use of its own logistic service, Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA).
There is growing bipartisan concern over the power Silicon Valley’s oligopolies wield over American society. Amazon alone controls 72% of U.S. adult book sales, Airbnb accounts for a fifth of domestic lodging expenditures and Facebook accounts for almost three-quarters of social media visits. Just two companies, Apple and Google, act as gatekeepers to 99% of smartphones, while two others, Uber and Lyft, control 98% of the ride-share market in the U.S. Yet, for government to take robust antitrust action against Silicon Valley requires the kind of data it currently lacks: documenting the harm this market consolidation inflicts on consumers. A new RealClearFoundation report offers a look at how amending Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to require platform transparency could aid such antitrust efforts.
When it comes to Silicon Valley’s social media platforms, they have long argued that antitrust laws don’t apply to them because their services are provided free of charge. In reality, users do pay for their services: with their data rather than their money. Companies today harvest vast amounts of private information about their users every day, using that data to invisibly nudge their users toward purchases and consuming ads, or the companies simply sell that data outright.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ordered a new unionization election at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama, ruling that the company violated federal labor law during the first election.
“Today’s decision confirms what we were saying all along – that Amazon’s intimidation and interference prevented workers from having a fair say in whether they wanted a union in their workplace – and as the Regional Director has indicated, that is both unacceptable and illegal,” Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) President Stuart Appelbaum said in a statement Monday.
“Amazon workers deserve to have a voice at work, which can only come from a union,” he continued.
Republican Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton and Democratic Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar unveiled a bipartisan bill Friday intended to restrict how major tech companies acquire and merge with smaller firms.
The bill, titled the Platform Competition and Opportunity Act, is a companion to antitrust legislation advanced out of the House Judiciary Committee in June. If enacted, the law would shift the burden in antitrust cases to the acquiring party for mergers greater than $50 million, meaning that the acquiring firm would have to prove that its acquisition of another company was not anti-competitive.
The bill explicitly targets Big Tech companies, and it applies to firms with market capitalizations over $600 billion, at least 50,000,000 U.S.-based monthly active users or 100,000 monthly active business users. This would include Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple.
On Thursday, two of the biggest tech companies in the world posted earnings that fell below market expectations, attributed to the ongoing supply chain crisis that is paralyzing the American economy, according to CNN.
For the third quarter of 2021, Amazon’s net sales amounted to around $110.8 billion, which was a 15 percent increase from the previous year; however, this ultimately fell below market analyst predictions of about $111.6 billion. Amazon’s overall net income for the same period decreased from the same period in 2020 to about $3.2 billion, when predictions estimated around $4.6 billion.
Apple’s sales during the same quarter were $83.4 billion, with iPhone sales at $38.9 billion; both were lower than original projections.
Nowhere is that more apparent than Tennessee where—despite having one of the most conservative electorates in the country—the leadership has been passive at best in responding to the wishes of their supporters during these days of great crisis.
A bipartisan bill aims to revive a killed business subsidy incentive that they say will spur new job creation in Michigan.
State Reps. Mark Tisdel, R-Rochester Hills and Angela Witwer, D-Delta Township, introduced House Bills (HB) 5425 and 5426 that aim to form the Michigan Employment Opportunity Program (MEOP) to provide incentives for business developments similar to the Good Jobs for Michigan (GJFM) program, which expired in 2019.
“The Michigan Employment Opportunity Program will form a public-private partnership to bring good jobs to our state,” Tisdel said in a statement. “Government can make it easier for businesses to invest in our communities and support more Michigan workers, bringing economic growth – and the revenue that comes with it.”
Amazon warehouse workers in Staten Island, New York City, announced plans Thursday to file for a union election before the National Labor Relations Board next week.
Amazon Labor Union, which represents 2,000 Amazon workers, signed union authorization cards and announced plans to petition for an election, according to Vice. If the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) approves this request and the unionization vote succeeds, the workers would be the first Amazon employees to successfully unionize.
Top members of the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Amazon chief executive Andy Jassy on Monday questioning whether the tech company’s executives lied under oath to Congress.
The letter, sent by a bipartisan group of lawmakers including House Judiciary Committee Chair Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York and House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee Ranking Member Republican Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado, referred to Wednesday reporting from Reuters stating that Amazon used its online marketplace to collect data on competitors and manufacture imitations of their products, prioritizing its imitations over competitors’ products in search results. The lawmakers also cited a Thursday investigation by The Markup which found that Amazon provided its “brands” better search result locations than those awarded to competitors with better ratings and reviews.
Two conservative tech advocacy groups sent a letter to House lawmakers criticizing former national security officials for attempting to prevent the passage of antitrust bills targeting Big Tech.
The letter, sent by the Internet Accountability Project (IAP) and the American Principles Project (APP) to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy along with lawmakers responsible for overseeing antitrust legislation, urged Congress to pass six bills targeting major tech companies advanced beyond the House Judiciary Committee in June. The letter also criticized twelve former intelligence officials who sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy arguing against the passage of antitrust bills in mid-September.
Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters wants to break up Big Tech and ban their business practices he believes are harmful.
“I think Republicans need to reacquaint themselves with their history of antitrust enforcement, and realize huge concentrations of power in private hands can violate people’s liberties just as much as government,” Masters said in an interview with the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Masters, who announced his candidacy in July, serves as chief operating officer at investment firm Thiel Capital and runs the Thiel Foundation, a philanthropic organization founded by billionaire investor and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. He competes in a crowded Republican primary with fellow candidate and current Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich for the chance to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly in 2022.
Amazon will begin paying college tuition for hundreds of thousands of its employees in an effort to attract more workers, the company said Thursday.
More than 750,000 hourly Amazon employees nationwide will be eligible to have their full college tuition paid for at one of hundreds of partner universities, according to the announcement. The billion-dollar online retailer said it would also pay for employees’ associate degrees and high school tuition.
Amazon is creating a team dedicated to actively locating content that violates its policies and removing it from its cloud hosting platform, Reuters reported.
The company’s cloud services division, Amazon Web Services (AWS), is set to hire several people to monitor and remove abusive, illegal, and violent content, a source familiar with the plans told Reuters. The team will also work with outside researchers to review and identify offending content, the source said.
AWS provides data storage, machine learning, and cloud web-hosting, among other services. The division attracted controversy earlier this year when it kicked social media app Parler off its cloud servers over allegations the app was used to coordinate the Jan. 6 riots inside the Capitol building.
Amazon is planning to open department stores where consumers can purchase a variety of goods like clothing and electronics, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The planned expansion of Amazon brick-and-mortar stores is the online retail giant’s latest attempt to disrupt the industry, according to a WSJ report Thursday. The Seattle-based company has recently expanded its brick-and-mortar grocery store footprint, opening 17 Amazon Fresh stores nationwide, and is developing at least 20 more, Bloomberg reported.
An EU privacy regulator hit Amazon with an $887 million fine for violating laws related to the processing of personal data.
The Luxembourg agency National Commission for Data Protection (CNPD) issued the fine, imposed July 16 and revealed Friday, ruling that Amazon’s processing of personal data in relation to its advertising practices was in violation of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), according to Amazon’s 10-Q SEC filing. The fine is the largest ever issued under the GDPR, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Corporations were silent on why they chose to suspend political contributions to Republicans, but not Democrats who have objected to election results.
More than 15 major U.S. companies that announced they would suspend giving money to members of Congress following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot didn’t respond to requests for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation about their political contribution activity following the 2016 presidential election. The corporations were quick to condemn Republicans lawmakers who voted against certifying the 2020 presidential election earlier this year, but apparently didn’t criticize or punish Democrats who have similarly objected to election results in the past.
While the tech giant Amazon has publicly endorsed proposals to raise the corporate tax rate in the United States, the company has been secretly lobbying to keep its own tax rates low, Politico reports.
Last year, during the 2020 presidential election, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos openly supported then-candidate Joe Biden’s proposals to raise taxes on American corporations. Those proposals have re-emerged in recent weeks as a possible means of funding a possible infrastructure bill, and Biden has been advocating for other countries around the world to adopt higher corporate tax rates as well.
But recently, Amazon has been stepping up its lobbying efforts to try to convince Congress and the White House to allow the company to keep using certain tax breaks in order to keep its own rates low. The retail giant hired a tax lobbyist named Joshua Odintz, who formerly worked as a Democratic aide on Capitol Hill and then as an official in the Obama Administration. In addition to Amazon’s own efforts, similar lobbying has been undertaken by a group known as the “R&D Coalition,” which consists of several companies and organizations including Amazon, Intel, and the National Association of Manufacturers.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos officially handed over the position of CEO to successor Andy Jassy on Monday, transitioning to the role of executive chair.
Bezos, whose stake in Amazon is worth roughly $180 billion according to the Associated Press, announced in a blog post his plans to step down from the chief executive officer position in February. Bezos said his new position as executive chair would allow him “to focus my energies and attention on new products and early initiatives.”
Tech giant Amazon recently demanded that the chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission be recused from any antitrust investigations into the company, according to the Daily Caller.
Amazon filed the petition with the FTC on Wednesday, accusing Chairwoman Lina Khan of being biased due to the fact that she “has, on numerous occasions, argued that Amazon is guilty of antitrust violations and should be broken up.” The petition continued by declaring that “these statements convey to any reasonable observer the clear impression that she has already made up her mind about many material facts relevant to Amazon’s antitrust culpability as well as about the ultimate issue of culpability itself.”
The FTC is already conducting several antitrust investigations, including against Amazon; their most recent efforts are focusing on Amazon’s possible acquisition of the film studio Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM), a purchase of nearly $9 billion announced last month.
Last-minute changes to major antitrust legislation working its way through the House appears to exempt several Big Tech companies from being affected by its regulations.
The legislation, which has been months in the making and was crafted to take on Big Tech monopolies, targets a handful of companies while excluding others that also have massive market power, a leading expert told the Daily Caller News Foundation. Existing federal and state antitrust law already prohibits a wide range of anticompetitive business activity across all industries like unlawful mergers and monopolization.
President Joe Biden’s sister will publish a book in April titled “Growing Up Biden: A Memoir,” according to an Amazon pre-order page.
Valerie Biden Owens, a close confidant of the president appears to be capitalizing on his position as president in the new book that appears to go against White House policy, Fox News reported.
“It’s the White House’s policy that the President’s name should not be used in connection with any commercial activities to suggest or in any way — in any way they could reasonably be understood to imply his endorsement or support,” Psaki said at a press briefing in January. “He’s issued the farthest-reaching executive order with respect to the ethical commitments required of his appointees ever and is very proud of it. And, you know, that’s something that he is committed to conveying to anyone it applies to.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of Congress last week, warning lawmakers that newly proposed antitrust legislation would harm consumers and hurt innovation, five sources with knowledge of the conversations told The New York Times.
Lawmakers introduced a series of antitrust bills that target Facebook, Apple, Google and Amazon, The New York Times reports. The legislative efforts seek to rein in the tech companies by addressing alleged anti-competitive practices and by curbing monopoly power, according to a report by CNET.
Pelosi pushed back on Cook’s warnings, asking him to name specific policy objections, two sources with knowledge of the conversations told The New York Times.
White House coronavirus adviser and long-time U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci’s upcoming book has been scrubbed from and altered on online listings, amid criticism that he is profiting from the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
Amazon acquired MGM Studios for $8.45 billion in a mega deal that will bolster Amazon’s entertainment profile, the companies announced Wednesday morning.
The deal will allow Amazon to give its subscribers access to MGM Studios’ entire portfolio of movies and television shows, according to the announcement. MGM Studios’ content library includes more than 4,000 films and 17,000 television shows.
“The real financial value behind this deal is the treasure trove of IP in the deep catalog that we plan to reimagine and develop together with MGM’s talented team,” Mike Hopkins, senior vice president of Prime Video and Amazon Studios, said in a statement. “It’s very exciting and provides so many opportunities for high-quality storytelling.”
The National Labor Relations Board will hold a hearing next month to investigate challenges levied by the union that attempted to organize Amazon warehouse workers in Alabama, according to CNBC.
National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) acting regional director Lisa Henderson will preside over the hearing on May 7 and has the power to order a new unionization election, CNBC reported.
The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) filed charges with the NLRB against Amazon on April 19, alleging that the company had intimidated and threatened employees throughout the election.
According to a the most recent quarterly censorship report card from the Media Research Center (MRC), most of the major Silicon Valley tech titans are failing to protect freedom of expression.
“By almost any measure, the first three months of 2021 were the worst ever for online freedom. Amazon, Twitter, Apple, Google, Facebook, YouTube and others proved to the world that the Big Tech censorship of conservatives is a reality,” the group said. “And they did so in disturbing, authoritarian ways that highlight their unchecked power over information and our political process.”
Big labor suffered a significant loss in its attempt to unionize employees at Amazon’s warehouse facility in Bessemer, Alabama. Of the workers eligible to vote, an embarrassingly small 16% voted to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. It was the most recent in a series of high-profile losses for labor including failed attempts to unionize factories for Volkswagen, Nissan Motors, and Boeing. In each case, union leaders bet that they could convince workers it was in their best interests to be enrolled in a union that would stand up to management over wages and working conditions. In each case, they lost.
Amazon endorsed President Joe Biden’s proposed higher corporate tax rate despite its history of routinely avoiding most or all of its federal tax obligations.
The massive online retailer supports President Joe Biden’s plan to pay for the $2 trillion infrastructure plan he unveiled last week, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement Tuesday. Biden announced that the plan would raise the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%.
Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio threw his weight of support behind the Amazon workers attempting to unionize at a Bessemer, Alabama warehouse.
Rubio endorsed the Bessemer warehouse workers’ effort to unionize in a USA Today editorial Friday morning, in which he sharply criticized Amazon. Rubio said the retail giant, which has fought hard against the unionization campaign, has waged a war against working-class values and has used anticompetitive strategies to harm small businesses.
Following the announcement that six books by the world-renowned children’s author Dr. Seuss would be banned due to alleged “racist imagery,” sales of the author’s books have soared on various online retailers, even as other Big Tech companies attempt to further suppress such sales, as reported by Fox News.
President Joe Biden endorsed the ongoing effort to unionize the workforce at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama, giving hope to labor leaders.
Biden tweeted his support for the effort on Sunday, nearly one month after the Bessemer, Alabama warehouse workers began voting in favor of or against unionizing. Biden said workers in Alabama, and nationwide, deserved the right to choose for themselves whether they wanted to join the union, but didn’t mention Amazon by name.
Employees at Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Alphabet, Google’s parent company, donated at least $15.1 million to President Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, according to Open Secrets.
The donations eclipsed the amount given from employees in the banking and legal sectors, according to The Wall Street Journal. The five companies were also the largest fundraising sources for Biden’s campaign.
Amazon has removed from its cybershelves a book with “thoughtful answers to questions” about transgenderism—without informing the author and without explanation.
“When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment” by Ryan T. Anderson, a former senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation and now president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, contends that ideology is more of a factor than biology in American society’s acceptance of transgenderism.
New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against Amazon on Tuesday night alleging that the online behemoth bypassed regulations meant to protect its workers from COVID-19.
The lawsuit claims that since the pandemic began in March the company refused to adopt legally required safety measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus in its two New York City facilities. It also alleges that Amazon did not adequately sanitize and close its facilities, adopt necessary social distancing measures or notify its employees of possible coronavirus exposures.
The National Labor Relations Board denied Amazon’s request to delay a unionization vote in its Bessemer, Alabama warehouse and ensure it’s conducted in-person.
In January, Amazon requested that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) delay the unionization election, arguing that the proposed mail-in ballot election would disenfranchise up to 1,700 workers. The Bessemer, Alabama warehouse’s nearly 5,800 total workers will begin voting in favor or against unionization on Monday.
The Big Tech giant Amazon has publicly offered to assist the new Biden Administration with efforts to distribute the coronavirus vaccine, after previously not making any such offers to the Trump Administration, as reported by the Daily Caller.
The offer was made in a letter to Joe Biden by Amazon vice president Dave Clark, who wrote that “Amazon stands ready to assist you in reaching your goal of vaccinating 100 million Americans in the first 100 days of your administration.” The letter continued, adding that “we are prepared to leverage our operations, information technology, and communications capabilities and expertise to assist your administration’s vaccination efforts.”
Globally dominant retailers Amazon and Walmart saw profits soar in 2020 on the strength of surging online sales amid a traditional retail environment decimated by COVID-19 closures and shoppers too nervous to venture out into brick-and-mortar establishments.
European Union regulators filed antitrust charges Tuesday against Amazon, accusing the e-commerce giant of using its access to data from companies that sell products on its platform to gain an unfair advantage over them.
The charges, filed two years after the bloc’s antitrust enforcer began looking into the company, are the latest effort by European regulators to curb the power of big technology companies. Margrethe Vestager, the EU commissioner in charge of competition issues, has slapped Google with antitrust fines totaling nearly $10 billion and opened twin antitrust investigations this summer into Apple. The EU’s executive Commission also opened a second investigation Tuesday into whether Amazon favors product offers and merchants that use its own logistics and delivery system.
Netflix is raising most of its U.S. prices by 8% to 13% as its video streaming service rides a wave of rising popularity spurred by government-imposed lockdowns that corralled people at home during the fight against the pandemic.
The increases imposed Friday boost the cost of Netflix’s most popular U.S. streaming plan by $1 to $14 per month, while a premium plan that allows more people to watch the service on different screens simultaneously will now cost $2 more at $18 per month. Netflix’s basic U.S. plan remains at $9 per month. It marks Netflix’s first price changes in the U.S. since an increase rolled out early last year.
Amazon is aiming to kickstart the holiday shopping season early this year.
The company is holding its annual Prime Day over two days in October this year, after the pandemic forced it to postpone the sales event from July. It’s the first time Prime Day is being held in the fall, and Amazon is positioning it as a way to get people to start their holiday shopping.
The Pentagon reaffirmed its decision Friday to give a $10 billion cloud computing project to Microsoft instead of Amazon, marking the second time in one year that the Trump administration bypassed the online giant’s attempt to secure the program.
The Trump administration’s decision comes amid a legal battle Amazon Web Services initiated in 2019 after the Department of Defense (DOD) selected Microsoft in 2019 for the $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud computing contract, media reports show. Amazon previously stated that President Donald Trump’s dislike of CEO Jeff Bezos contributed to the move.