The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is reportedly preparing an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon. The potential legal action, first reported in the Wall Street Journal, is expected to target a wide array of the e-commerce giant's business practices.
The FTC has been in the process of investigating Amazon since the Trump administration, scrutinizing accusations that the retailer prioritizes its own products over those of third-party sellers.
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In the last year, Amazon has been the target of a number of competition regulators around the world. It recently settled three major antitrust investigations in the European Union by changing how it collects user data, and by adjusting its requirements for seller inclusion in its Prime service.
FTC chair Lina Khan is known as an aggressive antitrust reformer, specifically with major tech companies. As a law student, she published a widely shared essay called "Amazon's Antitrust Paradox," arguing that Amazon's ability to use its size to undercut competitors' prices does not justify its monopolistic practices, even if that means providing the lowest cost to the consumer. Her nomination was aggressively opposed by the company, which filed a petition seeking her recusal from any investigation involving Amazon.
Amazon's market dominance by the numbers:
25%: Amazon's marketplace accounts for a quarter of all internet sales in America. It would take combining the online sales of Walmart, eBay, Apple, Home Depot, and Target to equal its size.
81.4 million subscriptions: Nearly two-thirds of all US households have an Amazon Prime membership.
88%: That's the percentage of Amazon customers who start their shopping on amazon.com-as opposed to a search engine or third-party website-giving Amazon full control over their shopping experience.
Judge rules that Amazon illegally intimidated striking workers
Meanwhile, a federal judge who hears cases for the US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled on Jan. 31 that Amazon supervisors had illegally threatened to withhold wages and benefits if workers at two Staten Island warehouses voted to unionize.
The judge also found that the company had illegally removed posts from a digital message board that were attempting to share information about unionization. The ruling dismissed a number of additional accusations submitted by NLRB prosecutors.
While there was no fine, the judge ordered Amazon to stop engaging in unfair labor practices and to post public notices that it would cease any further union intimidation. Last month, regulators from the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined Amazon for exposing its workers to unsafe conditions at three warehouses in Florida, New York, and Illinois.
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