- The Federal Trade Commission and attorneys general from New York and California have opened a new antitrust investigation into Amazon’s online marketplace, Bloomberg reported Monday.
- The agencies will coordinate on the probe and plan to interview witnesses starting in the next few weeks, according to the report.
- Amazon has come under fire over potential anti-competitive behaviour in recent months following reports that it secretly used its data on third-party sellers and startups to launch competing products.
- Lawmakers grilled CEO Jeff Bezos over Amazon’s treatment of sellers last week in a historic hearing on the growing power of the tech industry.
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State attorneys general from New York and California have teamed up with the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Amazon’s online marketplace, Bloomberg reported Monday.
The agencies plan to begin interviewing witnesses in the coming weeks, according Bloomberg.
California’s probe was previously reported by The Wall Street Journal, but Bloomberg first reported on the collaboration across the agencies. The New York Times reported last month that Washington has also been looking into the issue.
Amazon has faced increasing scrutiny over how it uses the vast trove of data it collects from third-party sellers on its site, with competitors and regulators claiming that Amazon has leveraged the information to launch competing products, or favour its own, in violation of its own stated policies.
The company initially refuted those claims publicly and under sworn testimony to Congress, but reporting from the Wall Street Journal in April challenged the accuracy of its statements, leading Amazon to open an internal probe into the issue.
Last month, dozens of entrepreneurs and investors also told The Wall Street Journal that Amazon used its investment deals in their companies to gain access to their internal data and use it to develop competing products.
In a major congressional antitrust hearing last week, lawmakers grilled CEO Jeff Bezos (as well as CEOs from Apple, Facebook, and Google parent Alphabet) about how tech giants use their market power. In perhaps the most revelatory moment of the hearing, Bezos told them that he couldn’t guarantee Amazon had never violated its own policies against using trend data about third-party sellers to inform Amazon’s in-house brands.
Amazon is already the subject of several investigations concerning its potentially monopolistic behaviour as well as its treatment of workers.
Those include probes by the FTC into “hundreds” of Amazon’s past acquisitions, the House Judiciary Committee over a wide range of antitrust issues (which informed its hearing last week), and regulators in the European Union, who are looking into the company’s treatment of third-party sellers specifically.
Amazon is also facing inquiries from officials in New York state, New York City, and California as well as the National Labour Relations Board over claims it failed to protect workers during the coronavirus pandemic or retaliated against them for speaking out.
A spokesperson for the New York attorney general’s office neither confirmed or denied the investigation. A spokesperson for the California attorney general’s office referred Business Insider to the New York attorney general and the FTC declined to comment for this story.
Avery Hartmans contributed reporting for this story.