The American antitrust watchdog, FTC, is taking Amazon to court in a landmark lawsuit with high stakes. The aim: to break Amazon’s power.
Years of preparation
After years in the making, it is finally here: the United States competition authority is taking legal action against Amazon. According to the complaint, the retail giant is abusing its dominant position in a number of areas, such as by forcing sellers to use certain logistics partners. Moreover, those who sell for less via Walmart or other retailers would virtually disappear from search results as a punishment.
The scale of the stakes was already clear when President Joe Biden appointed Lina Khan to chair the FTC. While still a student, she wrote a controversial and widely circulated paper on Amazon’s monopolistic position and how ‘big tech’ in general should be curbed. Incidentally, this is precisely what the Democratic president wants.
In the consumer’s interest?
Khan herself wants to dismantle the multinational, for example by forcing Amazon to sell off some of its branches. However, the court might be more inclined to impose financial fines or a ban on certain practices. If it even leads to a conviction, as the ambitious FTC president’s track record in this area is not exactly stellar: she has already lost cases against Microsoft and Meta, the parent company of Facebook.
Given this background, Amazon is already requesting that Khan be removed from the case. Furthermore, the company says that consumers’ interests will only be harmed if the competition watchdog prevails. Less power for Amazon would mean “less choice, higher prices and slower delivery” for consumers, while small businesses would have fewer options without the marketplace.