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Amazon Is Looking More and More Like a Nation-State

Amazon is levying taxes on French businesses after France approved a tax on the tech giant.

by Edward Ongweso Jr
Aug 29 2019, 5:11pm

Most politicians don’t understand how to confront Amazon’s market power. The most recent example is in France, where last month a decision was made to levy a 3 percent tax on Big Tech firms with global revenues higher than €750 million (~$830 million) and French revenues exceeding €25 million.

Amazon responded by simply levying its own tax on French businesses and increasing seller fees by 3 percent. As countries across the European Union consider their own plans to tax Big Tech monopolies instead of breaking them up, it’s hard to imagine why every company won’t follow Amazon’s example. The ability to levy taxes is typically reserved for states, but corporations have made it increasingly clear they’re eager to challenge and usurp any nation-state’s sovereignty.

Amazon, however, may be in a league of its own as it threatens to not only dominate the market, but become the market.

On Amazon’s online marketplace alone, there is no exit. Sellers can’t escape the company’s private taxes unless they want to lose most of their business. If they raise prices to make up the difference, consumers can’t do much about it because Amazon’s dominance of e-commerce gives it leverage to undermine competitors.

Amazon’s cloud computing services—the company’s cash cow—are integral to the functioning of countless corporations, intelligence services, and government entities. Owning over 50 percent of the market share (its closest competitor, Microsoft, commands about 13 percent) and close to half of all public cloud-infrastructure, there is simply no practical way to avoid the tech behemoth’s influence.

The company is currently fighting for a Pentagon contract to build a “war cloud” that will help create artificial intelligence systems for fighting wars. Amazon has created its own private surveillance network thanks to Ring (its surveillance company), which currently partners with hundreds of police departments. Dozens of cities once begged Amazon for the privilege of hosting its second headquarters. It even has plans to build space habitats after its unchecked growth helps destroy this planet’s ecology.

There may be a word that adequately describes how bad all of this is. But calling Amazon a mere “monopoly” certainly isn’t doing the job.