September 26, 2023 – The Federal Trade Commission and 17 state attorney generals filed an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon on Tuesday alleging that online retail utilizes anticompetitive and unfair strategies to illegally maintain its dominance in e-commerce.
The FTC and the states said that the global conglomerate is breaking the law through engaging in exclusionary conduct that prevents other companies from growing or emerging. It also cites that by constraining the competition through “price, product selection, quality, and preventing its current or future rivals from attracting a critical mass of shoppers and sellers” Amazon is ensuring there is no threat to its dominance.
“Our complaint lays out how Amazon has used a set of punitive and coercive tactics to unlawfully maintain its monopolies,” FTC Chair Lina Khan said. “The complaint sets forth detailed allegations noting how Amazon is now exploiting its monopoly power to enrich itself while raising prices and degrading service for the tens of millions of American families who shop on its platform and the hundreds of thousands of businesses that rely on Amazon to reach them. Today’s lawsuit seeks to hold Amazon to account for these monopolistic practices and restore the lost promise of free and fair competition.”
The FTC and states alleged that Amazon’s “anticompetitive conduct” occurs in the online superstore market and the market for online marketplace services. The tactics include, according to the complaint, “anti-discounting measures that punish sellers and deter other online retailers from offering prices lower than Amazon” and “conditioning sellers’ ability to obtain ‘Prime’ eligibility for their products,” which has limited their competitors’ ability to compete against.
Additionally, the FTC and states cite Amazon’s overwhelming amount of paid advertisements, search results which favor their own products, and costly sellers’ fees as “enormous monopoly rents from everyone in its reach.”
In a public statement responding to the lawsuit, Center for Law & Economics President and Founder Geoffrey A. Manne stated that it was “expected” but also argued that the “extreme demands greatly undermine the chances that the agency will prevail in court.”
“The case could greatly harm consumers, all in an attempt to shift the course of U.S. antitrust policy against the will of Congress and the courts,” said Manne.
The 17 states that joined the lawsuit are Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin.
Gomez sworn in as FCC Commissioner, appoints staff members
Anna Gomez on Monday was sworn in as an FCC Commissioner and announced the appointment of four staff members to her office.
“I am humbled and honored that President Biden and the United States Senate have entrusted me with the privilege to serve the people of the United States as a Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission,” Gomez said. “I look forward to working with Congress, Chairwoman Rosenworcel, my fellow Commissioners, and the talented and dedicated FCC staff to ensure that every person in every community, of every geography and income, has access to modern telecommunications services.”
Gomez’s staff will consist of Deena Shetler, acting chief of staff and legal advisor for media and international, Edyael Casaperalta, acting legal advisor for wireless, public safety and consumer protection, Hayley Steffen, acting legal advisor for wireline and space, and Anna Holland, acting executive assistant.
“I am elated that these dedicated talented public servants have agreed to join my office,” Gomez said. “They bring extensive experience in communications policy, the Commission, and working with its broad range of stakeholders. I know they will provide outstanding advice and I look forward to getting to work with them to ensure the Commission’s actions meet the needs of all people.”
With Gomez now sworn in as a commissioner, Democrats at the FCC now have a 3-2 majority.
Internet providers merge to create broadband company serving Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas
Two internet service providers, 360 Communications and 903 Broadband, have merged together to create a new company, 360 Broadband, announced Thursday.
360 Broadband’s mission is to provide affordable data, reliable voice and other related services to states in the South Central Region. The states receiving service are Oklahoma, where 360 Communications originated from, Texas, home of the former 903 Broadband, and Arkansas.
Upon merging in August, 360 Broadband had roughly 16,000 subscribers and 88 employees over 10,000 square miles and 30 counties, 20 in Oklahoma, six in Texas, and four in Arkansas. The company has an overall goal of reaching 50,000 subscribers in the three states.
“We are delighted to join forces to provide a high-quality, reliable broadband experience in rural and smalltown areas of Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas,” said George Breeden, CEO of 360 Broadband.
Company officials said that will seek to receive local, state, and federal funding for rural broadband network expansions. 360 Broadband received over $33 million in private financing from Oklahoma City-based Fischer Industries.