Press Release Platform Competition

Public Knowledge Urges Congress to Block Platform Misuse of Retailer Data

April 24, 2020 , , ,

Today, Public Knowledge sent a letter to Congress urging that it bar digital platforms such as Amazon from misusing retailer data. In the letter, Public Knowledge highlights a policy solution that directly addresses the recent allegations against Amazon for misusing retailer data. A recent Wall Street Journal article alleged that Amazon product teams used proprietary information from independent vendors to develop competing products. In response, Public Knowledge urges Congress to impose strict limits on how dominant digital platforms can use information collected for the purpose of completing transactions.

Letter recipients include the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Chairman Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA); House Judiciary Committee’s Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio); Senate Commerce Committee’s Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA); and House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Chairman Frank Pallone (DNJ) and Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-OR).The following is an excerpt from the letter:

“As concentration and network effects limit the ability of vendors to protect their proprietary information via traditional market mechanisms, digital platforms (including, but not limited to, Amazon) have an increasing ability to unfairly appropriate this proprietary information for their own use.

“We believe that Congress can adapt the successful principles of CPNI – themselves derived from traditional common law principles such as the duty of loyalty and principles of fundamental fairness in competition – to the online digital marketplace. Congress can create a statute that defines digital platforms and impose strict limits on how these platforms can use information collected for the purpose of completing transactions.”

You may view our previous blog post — “What Would Real Platform CPNI Look Like?” — for more information on customer proprietary network information and how it works, as well as Public Knowledge Vice President Harold Feld’s new book, “The Case for the Digital Platform Act.”