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Sen. Klobuchar's message to Amazon: Work with Congress instead of 'opposing everything'

Klobuchar said she sees Amazon 'as a monopoly.'

This week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) brought its much-anticipated antitrust case against Amazon (AMZN), which alleges that the e-commerce giant is protecting its monopoly in online retail markets.

As the dust settles, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) has a message for the company and its CEO, Andy Jassy.

"I see Amazon as a monopoly," Klobuchar told Yahoo Finance in a phone interview. "In the end, the facts are here, and I have no doubt they will keep trying to fight it to the end. But maybe it's better to look at the business model and adjust it to be compliant with the antitrust laws of competition.

"They certainly are a company that has shown the ability to pivot and innovate," she added. "Maybe they should work with Congress to put in place some of these guardrails instead of just opposing everything and paying for advertising against members of Congress in order to do it."

WASHINGTON - MAY 31: Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., speaks to reporters during the Senate Democrats' news conference in the Ohio Clock Corridor in the Capitol on Wednesday, May 31, 2023. (Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) speaks to reporters during the Senate Democrats' news conference in the Ohio Clock Corridor in the Capitol on Wednesday, May 31, 2023. (Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images) (Bill Clark via Getty Images)

Klobuchar was referring to tech industry-funded television ads that oppose the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, a bill proposed by Klobuchar and Sen. Chuck Grassley that would establish rules around online competition.

"For too long, we have just looked the other way," Klobuchar said. "These companies started out small, and all these laws were put in place to foster their development ... but now they are behemoths. They are controlling the gateways to commerce, and that doesn't mean you want them in any way to go away. You don't want to do that, ... you just want to put guardrails in place."

Yahoo Finance reached out to Amazon for comment, and the company directed Yahoo to a previously published release.

"[The] suit makes clear the FTC’s focus has radically departed from its mission of protecting consumers and competition," David Zapolsky, Amazon senior vice president of global public policy and general counsel, said in a statement. "The practices the FTC is challenging have helped to spur competition and innovation across the retail industry, and have produced greater selection, lower prices, and faster delivery speeds for Amazon customers and greater opportunity for the many businesses that sell in Amazon’s store."

Moving forward, Klobuchar said, Amazon could be more engaged — and less hostile — toward lawmakers.

"Instead of trying to work with us on compromises on these bills, they have never even given an inch ever," Klobuchar said. "They really do use a scorched earth policy, both in litigation and in Congress."

Furthermore, Klobuchar — one of Big Tech's most outspoken critics — said that these antitrust efforts need to span administrations. To that end, on Wednesday, she will be holding a hearing on "AI and the Future of our Elections."

She called concerns around AI "urgent."

"The urgency of all of this comes from the fact that these campaigns are being waged now," she said. "We already saw a deepfake video about Elizabeth Warren that wasn't true. ... We also already saw one showing Trump hugging Fauci, and we're going to see more and more of these if we don't act."

According to Klobuchar, this next election cycle matters in the context of Amazon and the FTC's future fight against Big Tech.

"You cannot take on the biggest companies the world has ever known within one administration," Klobuchar said.

Allie Garfinkle is a Senior Tech Reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @agarfinks and on LinkedIn.

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