Amazon will reportedly meet with the FTC ahead of potential antitrust lawsuit

The agency kicked off the reportedly wide-ranging probe in 2019.

FTC chair Lina Khan (Tom Williams via Getty Images)

Amazon will reportedly meet with the FTC next week before the filing of a possible antitrust lawsuit against the online retailer. The New York Times reports that FTC chair Lina Khan and commissioners Rebecca Kelly Slaughter and Alvaro Bedoya will sit down with Amazon representatives as the government agency nears a decision on whether to sue the company for antimonopoly laws. The scheduled conversation is viewed as a “last rites” meeting: Amazon’s final chance to persuade the FTC to back off before filing a suit.

The FTC began investigating Amazon in 2019 for using its influence to hurt competition. Investigators reportedly began the probe by interviewing third-party marketplace vendors, asking how their earnings on Amazon compared to those on competing platforms like eBay and Walmart. Politico reported in July that the potential lawsuit “will likely challenge a host of Amazon’s business practices” and “could lead to a court-ordered restructuring of the $1.3 trillion empire.” This suit is separate from one the FTC filed in June against the retailer, accusing it of tricking customers into Prime subscriptions and making it hard to cancel the service.

Khan has been a longtime Amazon critic. While a law student at Yale, she wrote a paper suggesting the rethinking of antitrust laws in response to the company’s dominance. Her report criticized US antitrust laws for focusing too much on consumer prices while dismissing other ways companies can break the law to gain competitive advantages. “As consumers, as users, we love these tech companies,” she told The New York Times in 2018. “But as citizens, as workers, and as entrepreneurs, we recognize that their power is troubling. We need a new framework, a new vocabulary for how to assess and address their dominance.” Amazon has argued for Khan’s recusal from the case based on her academic work and previous statements.

The Biden administration has reportedly “grown increasingly concerned” about the influence of Big Tech companies. Bloomberg describes the executive branch as “seeking to reverse what it has viewed as decades of lax oversight over corporate consolidation and market power.” The DOJ has sued Meta and Google multiple times (although a federal judge recently narrowed the scope of one of those cases).

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