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Down by Law

Powerful industry lobbies are fighting tooth and nail to stop online competitors.

By Joshua Kurlantzick • Apr 1, 2002

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Over the past two years, Old Economy companies ranging from winewholesalers to contact lens manufacturers have used their lobbiesto inhibit e-commerce. For example, last January, a federal lawinfluenced by wine and spirits wholesalers curbed online winesales. Similarly, some brick-and-mortar auctioneers have pushed forstate laws inhibiting sales by eBay.

This protectionism has significant ramifications. TheProgressive Policy Institute (PPI), a Washington, DC, think tank,estimates e-commerce barriers cost American consumers andbusinesses $15 billion annually. This wasted money often comes outof the pockets of entrepreneurs. Access Markets, a New York Cityresearch firm, estimates at least 5 million small companiescurrently conduct commerce on the Internet.

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