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The retail group says it's ready to help technological antitrust probes



As regulators get ready to investigate Big Tech, the company's rivals are ready to help.

In a letter dated Sunday, a group representing dealers, including Walmart, Target and Best Buy, shared their own concerns with the Federal Trade Commission, one of two US agencies with antitrust control duties. The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) said regulators should apply a broader antitrust standard than considering whether consumers are getting a good deal, for which the Justice Department's antitrust manager, Makan Delrahim, had also made the case in a speech last month.

The letter comes as the FTC and DOJ have reported shared a handful of the nation's largest tech companies: Facebook, Google Parent Company Alphabet, Amazon and Apple. Companies have faced regulation and in some cases fines from regulators around the world in recent years that have found them in breach of competition law.

RILA said in the letter it is concerned about the "information infrastructure" that allows technical companies to use data to influence consumer understanding of prices.

"It should therefore be quite concerned with the Commission that Amazon and Google control the majority of all Internet product search, and can very easily affect whether and price and product information actually reaches consumers," RILA wrote.

Finally, it said: "A company does not need to have the power to control the prices if it has the power to control effective access to pricing information."

RILA also raised questions about potential consumer harm theaters inflicting through their dominance that is not related to the prices. The group wrote that "the quality of these products and services has deteriorated as these companies switched from fierce competitors to dominant monopolists", citing data privacy and advertising information issues at Google and Facebook

Google, Facebook, and Amazon did not immediately respond to CNBC's comment requests .

Meanwhile, other technology companies like Yelp have been critical to Google's competitive practices for years.

RILA said it did not write the letter "to complain about competition" from technology companies, but that it wants the competition to take place "on a fair and steady competition".

Ending the letter, signed by RILA Chief Operating Officer Brian Dodge, the group said it is ready to work with the Commission when it completes its ambitious review of all comments and testimonies, and to provide other assistance the Commission may consider appropriate and useful .

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