FTC Quietly Investigates Amazon

FTC Quietly Investigates Amazon

(RightWing.org) – The wheels of justice originating out of the nation’s capital move at a snail’s pace all too frequently, particularly regarding government oversight of monopolies. However, a recent report indicates things are about to catch up with Amazon as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) appears to be wrapping up some of its years-long quiet investigations of the online marketplace.

On March 20, POLITICO published a stunning exposé revealing that the FTC’s multi-pronged investigation into Amazon’s business practices is rapidly “approaching the action phase” regarding the nation’s antitrust laws, future mergers, privacy practices, and a host of other issues.

POLITICO contributor Joshua Sisco reported the FTC’s investigation into the Big Tech giant spans back as least as far as 2019. Since then, the commission has launched six separate probes into Amazon operations. According to him, the Biden Administration is preparing to act on at least three of these in the future.

Those three investigations appear to include inquiries involving Amazon’s

  1. Abuse of power on its online marketplace.
  2. Violations of consumer privacy protections associated with the company’s Alexa voice assistant and its Ring cameras.
  3. Recent purchase of iRobot, Roomba Vacuum’s parent company.

Amazon acquired iRobot in early August 2022 for $1.7 billion. Shortly after the purchase, Business Insider and other media outlets reported that data-privacy experts and antitrust researchers characterized the deal as Amazon’s “most dangerous [and] threatening acquisition” in its roughly 29-year history.

Sisco reported that POLITICO contacted more than 10 individuals with direct insider information regarding the FTC’s ongoing probes regarding Amazon. They include five key areas:

  1. Two ongoing investigations into possible violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act involving two product lines: Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant and the company’s Ring security cameras.
  2. A probe into obstacles reportedly created to make it difficult to unsubscribe to Amazon services like Prime and other “dark pattern” tactics, deceptive practices designed to trick consumers into behaviors like subscribing to costlier services than intended.
  3. Potential antitrust violations involving a wide range of products involved in Amazon’s retail offerings.
  4. A possible challenge of the Big Tech company’s purchase of iRobot.
  5. A long-standing probe involving deceptive advertising practices promoting its “Amazon Choice” label, giving it an unfair “pay-to-play” advantage.

Representatives for Amazon and the FTC declined to respond when asked about the investigations.

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