Amazon Being Scrutinized for Antitrust Violations, Reports Say

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Government regulators are zeroing in on Amazon for possible antitrust violations.

On Monday, the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law, which is chaired by Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), opened an investigation into whether big tech companies, including Amazon and Facebook, are in violation of antitrust laws, according to reports.

The announcement comes on the heels of reports that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) have divided responsibility for antitrust investigations, with the FTC taking oversight of Amazon and Facebook, according to Vox, and the DOJ having jurisdiction over Google and Apple, according to media reports.

“This is really about ‘how do we get competition back in this space?’” said Rep. Cicilline, as reported by Yahoo News. “People seem to have forgotten that there’s a reason that we have the antitrust statute.”

The subcommittee on antitrust will produce a report along with recommendations, and Cicilline will look to introduce related legislation before the congressional session ends in January 2021, Yahoo News noted.  

“The American Booksellers Association is grateful to Congressman Cicilline for opening an investigation into antitrust violations by tech companies, including Amazon,” said David Grogan, director, ABFE, advocacy and public policy for ABA. “We contend that Amazon has abused its market power in the book industry, and that it is consolidating a very troubling dominance in its marketplace, distribution network, and web services. ABA believes an official FTC investigation into Amazon for antitrust violations should come sooner rather than later.”

Grogan said that ABA would be closely following developments as they occur and would look to provide data to Congress and the FTC as necessary.

While no official investigation of Amazon has been opened, in recent months, the FTC has begun questioning some of Amazon’s competitors about its business practices, Vox reported. In February, the FTC Bureau of Competition announced that it was creating a task force that is dedicated to monitoring anti-competitive behavior in U.S. technology markets. Among the things the FTC is unofficially looking into include Amazon competing against its own sellers on Amazon Marketplace and Amazon’s fulfillment services.