Down by Law
Powerful industry lobbies are fighting tooth and nail to stop online competitors.
Over the past two years, Old Economy companies ranging from wine wholesalers to contact lens manufacturers have used their lobbies to inhibit e-commerce. For example, last January, a federal law influenced by wine and spirits wholesalers curbed online wine sales. Similarly, some brick-and-mortar auctioneers have pushed for state laws inhibiting sales by eBay.
This protectionism has significant ramifications. The Progressive Policy Institute (PPI), a Washington, DC, think tank, estimates e-commerce barriers cost American consumers and businesses $15 billion annually. This wasted money often comes out of the pockets of entrepreneurs. Access Markets, a New York City research firm, estimates at least 5 million small companies currently conduct commerce on the Internet.
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