An Amazon- and Google-funded group that claims to represent small business owners and lobbies against stricter regulations of Big Tech companies has members that haven’t even heard of the organization.
Non-Profit Group for Small Business Owners
The Connected Commerce Council, or 3C, describes itself as a non-profit organization whose mission is to advance “the interests, education and engagement of small businesses powered by digital technology.”
3C lobbies against “overregulation” of tech companies allegedly on behalf of the small business members it represents. It aims to convince Congress of the importance of the technology the latter wishes to regulate more and its impact on small businesses.
The Connected Commerce Council lobbies against “big is bad” legislation, emphasizing that small businesses need the tools these companies offer. The stricter regulations that will be imposed may make these tools more expensive and less effective. This is not unlike the time when Facebook campaigned against Apple’s iOS, claiming that the update blocks some features that are important to small business owners who want to grow and reach more customers.
Congress has been investigating Big Tech’s power for some time now. In 2019, they were able to force Amazon to answer questions that revealed previously unknown but important facts about the company. In 2021, Lina Khan, who is vocal about her strong opinions about Big Tech, was named FTC chair, making it more challenging for companies like Amazon and Google to fight against stricter regulations.
Confused Business Owners
3C has about 5,000 members listed, but it removed their official list from the site last February, allegedly to update it. However, while they claim to have thousands of members, a lot of these supposed members have never even heard of the group. Politico reported that out of the 70 business owners they interviewed, 61 were not familiar with the Connected Commerce Council.
CNBC also interviewed 20 other alleged members who also have not heard of the group before or who deny having signed up for membership. Even Block (previously Square), founded by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, was listed as 3C’s partner before but the former denied its partnership with the group. After the CNBC interview, 3C removed Block from their site, saying that it was no longer an active partner.
Even Facebook (now Meta) was also listed as a Connected Commerce Council member before but has since been removed from the site. Last month, 3C removed thousands of members from its site. But according to the group’s spokesperson, they did it because they just weren’t able to update the list for some time.
To be fair, 3C does have legitimate members who are small business owners. However, a lot of those listed are not even aware of their membership, which brings to question the legitimacy of the group, especially with the fact that they are funded primarily by the companies who stand to benefit most from their efforts.
Grassroots Campaigns vs. Amazon
Amazon is no stranger to grassroots campaigns. It may have supported 3C financially to help advance its cause, but it has also been the victim of similar campaigns. In 2019, The Wall Street Journal reported that a campaign against Amazon was actually funded by its competitors, including Walmart.
There are also other grassroots opposition groups that strongly advocate against Amazon and the construction of more of its warehouses in their area. In France, for example, some groups are denouncing Amazon’s expansion and have even blamed their President for tolerating it.
This is not the first time that Big Tech made efforts to lobby against regulatory legislation. In 2021, some Amazon sellers received an email from the company, asking them to oppose proposed legislation that may affect their own private-label brands.
It’s hardly surprising that Amazon and Google are backing up this group, but it’s definitely news for some “members” that they are even involved with the organization.