The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed an anticipated antitrust lawsuit against Amazon.com, alleging that the online retail giant’s practices have harmed consumers by resulting in higher prices. This lawsuit is part of the US government’s ongoing efforts to address the dominance of Big Tech companies in various internet sectors.
Joined by 17 state attorneys general, the lawsuit comes after years of complaints that Amazon.com and other major tech companies have misused their dominance in search, social media, and online retail, effectively establishing themselves as gatekeepers in the most profitable areas of the internet.
The FTC and its state partners accuse Amazon of engaging in activities that enable it to prevent competitors and sellers from reducing prices, lower product quality for consumers, overcharge sellers, inhibit innovation, and hinder rivals from fair competition.
The FTC seeks a permanent injunction from the court to stop Amazon.com’s alleged unlawful conduct, which includes penalizing sellers attempting to offer lower prices than Amazon’s by making it challenging for consumers to locate these sellers on Amazon’s platform. The lawsuit also alleges that Amazon has favored its own products on its platform over products from competitors.
FTC Chair Lina Khan, who had previously written about Amazon.com’s dominance in online retailing while a law student and was involved with a House committee report advocating control over major tech companies, has taken a proactive stance in addressing Big Tech’s influence.
The need to take action against these tech giants has been a bipartisan issue, with both Democrats and Republicans supporting efforts to regulate them. During the Trump administration, the Department of Justice and FTC initiated investigations into Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon. Multiple lawsuits have been filed against Google, both under Republican and Democratic administrations, while the FTC sued Facebook during the Trump era, and the lawsuit has continued under the Biden administration.