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Amazon Deal For Whole Foods Wins U.S. Regulatory, Shareholder Approvals

WASHINGTON/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) on Wednesday cleared two of the biggest hurdles it needed to close its $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods Market Inc (WFM.O), with approvals from a U.S. regulator and the grocery chain’s shareholders.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission said in a statement it would not pursue its investigation into the proposed merger further after reviewing whether the deal would substantially lessen competition or constituted an unfair method of competition.

Amazon's Whole Foods Acquisition Wins Approval From The FTC, Shareholders

The agency chose not to block the deal based off speculation

Back in June, Amazon announced that it would be acquiring Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. Critics were quick to respond that the deal was a huge threat to competition in the grocery industry and that it shouldn’t receive approval from regulators.

FTC Approves Whole Foods-Amazon Merger

Amazon.com Inc.'s takeover of Whole Foods Market Inc. cleared its biggest hurdle on Wednesday as federal regulators approved the e-commerce giant's big bet on the more than $700 billion food retail market.
The Federal Trade Commission's decision allows the companies to complete their $13.7 billion deal, including debt, and avoid a prolonged antitrust investigation.

Whole Food shareholders also cleared the deal Wednesday, the Austin, Texas-based company said. Amazon shareholders don't need to sign off on the transaction.

War Over Backpage Moves To A New Battlefield

WASHINGTON -- Big internet companies are pushing for language in a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement that would undercut attempts by members of Congress, including many from the St. Louis area, to curb liability protection for platforms that host the controversial online advertising site Backpage.

Until recently, the prime policy fights surrounding Backpage, which critics say runs ads for illegal sex, have been in Congress and in the states.

Op-Ed: Another View -- John M. Simpson: Closing A Loophole On Sex Trafficking

One victim of sex trafficking began her ordeal when she was 15. She was sold through website Backpage.com for sex to men across Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Maine. She was raped more than 600 times over the course of four months.

Another victim was sex trafficked through Backpage for three years starting when she was 14 years old in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Over those three years, she was raped thousands of times.

EDITORIAL: Closing Loopholes: While Protecting Online Speech

Government restrictions on online speech should be undertaken with the greatest skepticism.

But when internet companies knowingly facilitate illegal acts, such as human trafficking, that’s not speech. That’s a crime.

John M. Simpson of Consumer Watchdog today writes about efforts to close a loophole in the Communications Decency Act that he argues has allowed a company to get away with profiting from the sex slave trade.