NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Some Retailers Use Regulations To Protect Them From E-Commerce Rivals

March 1, 2001

Some traditional retailers, distributors, brokers and other middlemen are scouting for every judicial, regulatory or political advantage they can muster to protect them from Internet rivals, observers warn.

Protectionism is far from a new phenomenon. Here are three examples -- one from history and two that are contemporary:

  • In the 1920s, the Horse and Mule Association of American vigorously campaigned to limit the use of trucks on public roads and successfully waged a national campaign to prohibit car parking on principal streets.
  • Due to car dealership lobbying, prospective auto buyers who want to go online to customize a new car are prohibited from doing so in all 50 states.
  • In Maine, optometrists lobbied for a prohibition against releasing prescriptions to their patients -- ensuring that customers cannot reorder contact lenses online.

The Progressive Policy Institute estimates that consumers pay at least $15 billion more a year for goods and services as a result of protections designed to thwart e-commerce.

Source: Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and Robert Atkinson (Progressive Policy Institute), "Left in the Buggy: E-Commerce Is Seen as Threat to Slow Middlemen," Investor's Business Daily, March 1, 2001.


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