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The FTC comes for big tech again

The Federal Trade Commission and 17 state attorneys general sued Amazon Tuesday, alleging the e-commerce giant is monopolizing markets.

Yahoo Finance’s Alexis Keenan and Dan Howley report:

The suit alleges that Amazon holds monopolies in online markets for buyers and sellers. According to the FTC, Amazon is violating U.S. antitrust law by degrading consumer choice and blocking sellers from selling goods at lower prices elsewhere online.

“Our complaint lays out how Amazon has used a set of punitive and coercive tactics to unlawfully maintain its monopolies,” FTC Chair Lina Khan said in a statement.

“The complaint sets forth detailed allegations noting how Amazon is now exploiting its monopoly power to enrich itself while raising prices and degrading service for the tens of millions of American families who shop on its platform and the hundreds of thousands of businesses that rely on Amazon to reach them. Today’s lawsuit seeks to hold Amazon to account for these monopolistic practices and restore the lost promise of free and fair competition.”

The FTC claims that Amazon uses anti-discounting measures that hurt sellers and keep other online retailers from offering prices lower than Amazon’s. It also says that Amazon’s requirement that sellers use its fulfillment service to be able to use its Prime service makes it more expensive for sellers to offer their products on other platforms.

The commission further claims that Amazon replaces organic search results on its market place with paid ads that frustrate consumers, and that the company biases its own products in search.

The suit calls for a permanent injunction against Amazon to keep the company from “engaging in its unlawful conduct and pry loose Amazon’s monopolistic control to restore competition.”

Amazon, however, refuted those claims.

“The practices the FTC is challenging have helped to spur competition and innovation across the retail industry, and have produced greater selection, lower prices, and faster delivery speeds for Amazon customers and greater opportunity for the many businesses that sell in Amazon’s store,” David Zapolsky, Amazon senior vice president of global public policy and general counsel aid in a statement.

“If the FTC gets its way, the result would be fewer products to choose from, higher prices, slower deliveries for consumers, and reduced options for small businesses—the opposite of what antitrust law is designed to do”

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