The United States filed a lawsuit against Amazon on Tuesday for monopolistic practices aimed at "inflating prices, degrading quality and stealing innovation from consumers and businesses."
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), along with 17 state attorneys general, accuses Amazon of "preventing rivals from lowering prices, degrading quality for its customers, overcharging sellers, hindering innovation and preventing rivals from competing fairly." The lawsuit, which finds that some 100 million buyers have been affected, pegs the harm from such practices at hundreds of millions of dollars a year. "Rarely in history," an FTC statement said, "has antitrust law been used with the potential of this case to do so much good for so many people.
This legal action can be interpreted within the offensive of the Biden Administration to limit the power of the big US technology companies. Other open cases have targeted Google or Microsoft, in their attempt to buy the video game company Activision.
"Our complaint exposes how Amazon has employed a suite of punitive and coercive tactics to illegally maintain its monopolies," FTC Chairwoman Lina M. Khan, who has proven to be the scourge of Silicon Valley from the Administration, said in the note sent by the commission. "The lawsuit lays out detailed allegations pointing out how Amazon exploits 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 companies that depend on Amazon for their business. Today's lawsuit seeks to hold Amazon accountable for these monopolistic practices and restore the lost promise of free and fair competition."
The tactics denounced by Khan include, but are not limited to, "anti-discount measures that punish sellers and deter other retailers from offering lower prices than Amazon." Among those tricks to undermine the reach of the competition is the degradation of the seller who offers better deals than the multinational by placing so low in the search results that in practice they become invisible. Amazon is also accused of putting obstacles in the way of companies so that they can benefit from membership in the "Prime" club for their products, which allows free shipping.
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