Amazon Lobbyists Have European Parliament Passes Revoked

In the ongoing saga between e-commerce giant Amazon and the European Parliament, the latest development involves the revocation of access badges for Amazon lobbyists following concerns that the company is evading proper scrutiny as per European regulations.

While Amazon has fired back and protested the decision, the European Parliament remains resolute in its stance.

Amazon Lobbyists’ Badges Revoked

The request for Amazon to have their access badges removed has come following accusations from the EU’s Committee on Employment and Social Affairs that the e-commerce company has been obstructing investigations into alleged violations of “fundamental rights”, as per a BBC report.

In response to the decision, Amazon expressed disappointment, citing its repeated willingness to engage with EU committee members. The company emphasised its long-standing presence in the EU and its significant workforce, asserting a commitment to engaging with policymakers.

Alas, Amazon’s plea fell on deaf ears as the committee defended its decisions.

Former committee chairman Dragoș Pîslaru articulated concerns about Amazon’s operations in the EU, releasing a statement claiming that the committee had, for years, been trying to investigate the working conditions of Amazon employees within the EU.

According to Pîslaru, Amazon has consistently declined invitations to participate in hearings and blocked committee visits, demonstrating an attitude that he has deemed “disrespectful to the European Parliament and EU citizens in general”.

This latest showdown prompts reflection on the events leading to this point.

Amazon’s Prior Misdemeanours

For years, Amazon has, as per Mr Pîslaru’s statement, consistently declined to participate in committee sessions However, contrary to Mr Pîslaru’s claims, the company states this was done out of the belief that the committee is biased against them.

Additionally, Amazon cited its busy schedule during the peak retail delivery season, particularly over Christmas, as a reason for its inability to attend sessions.

Responding to allegations of deliberate neglect, Amazon emphasised its history of accommodating committee visits and insisted on its commitment to do so in the future.

Such stark disparities between the committee’s statements concerning Amazon’s conduct and the e-commerce giant’s portrayal of itself leave the issue in murky water and the resolution, as of yet, unclear.

Why Big Tech And The EU Are Clashing

While Amazon’s operations may well contravene European regulations, it is not the sole big tech firm entangled in disputes. Meta, Google and X have all been investigated, or are currently under investigation, for breaching European law.

So, why does conflict between big tech firms and the EU persist?

According to an interesting Guardian report in late 2023, the EU introduced a series of “revolutionary” laws aimed at curbing the influence of six major tech companies.

In August, the EU unveiled the Digital Services Act to combat online hate, child sexual abuse, and disinformation, marking the first laws governing online content. Subsequently, the Digital Markets Act (DMA) was introduced, empowering consumers to control the content on their devices and remove pre-installed software.

The EU is also cracking down on big tech companies’ ability to monetise information about phone users, prohibiting the use of collected app data to create detailed profiles for advertisers.

Two large packages of laws hitting tech firms in two months may shed light on the ongoing conflict between these firms and the EU.

It is evident that the EU is actively working to diminish the influence of big tech firms. Considering these firms have subsequently fallen under investigation, one can only assume they’re not happy about it, especially given the substantial fines they may face for non-compliance. Just take a look at Meta, which has already had to shell out £95bn as a result.

The ongoing tech versus EU showdown indicates that more regulations can be expected throughout 2024, aimed at curbing the dominance of these firms across Europe.