Etsy’s chief executive slams Amazon for “working back channels” to “wipe out its competitors”

Etsy’s chief executive has slammed Amazon for “taking bold steps to wipe out its competitors” by lobbying lawmakers.

Josh Silverman has accused Amazon of “working back channels” and engaging in an “abuse of market power” after California lawmakers amended a key piece of legislation to favour Amazon’s position.

Lawmakers are due to vote on the milestone California consumer protection bill this week, which would see marketplaces like Amazon become liable for products sold through its site.

The initial version of the bill stated that handmade goods, auctioned products and those sold through classified ads would be exempt from the legislation, meaning Amazon’s key rivals Etsy and Ebay would not be liable for the majority of products sold on their sites.

However, Amazon published a blog post arguing that the bill should be extended to all online marketplaces, leading the AB-3262 bill to be amended to include them on Monday.

READ MORE: Amazon dealt major blow after court rules “it should be held liable” for defective goods

Silverman said Amazon has redirected “this legislation to their advantage” by lobbying lawmakers, adding that while it will be a “inconvenience” for Amazon, it “could be crushing for smaller e-commerce players”.

“Amazon is taking bold steps to wipe out its competitors by promoting complex, hard-to-comply-with legislation that only they can afford to absorb,” he added.

“Amazon’s goal is to be the only place to buy stuff online.”

Amazon’s blog post, published on Friday, argued that: “Injured consumers should be able to seek compensation regardless of how a particular online marketplace makes money.

“For AB 3262 to be a successful, lasting, and meaningful law, it cannot leave open loopholes for some marketplaces to escape accountability.”

Until now Amazon has been legally regarded as a “service provider”, enabling it to shift liability to the independent third-party retailers selling on its platform.

However, this designation was challenged earlier this month in a landmark blow to the retailer as the California Fourth District Court of Appeals ruled that Amazon oversaw every step of the retail journey and should therefore be held accountable for the products it sells.

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