The Week (US)
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Antitrust: D.C. sues Amazon over pricing
The Attorney General of the District of Columbia filed an antitrust suit against Amazon this week, alleging the e-commerce giant harms consumers, said Ryan Tracy in The Wall Street Journal. The suit centers on Amazon’s 2019 Fair Pricing Policy. Under that agreement, Amazon can sanction U.S. sellers on the Amazon marketplace if they offer their products at lower prices elsewhere online. Amazon argues that the policy ensures consumers aren’t being gouged. But D.C. AG Karl Racine said that this arrangement, as well as the fact that “Amazon levies fees as high as 40 percent of the product price” to use its services, makes products more expensive.
This is “both an old-school and novel” argument, said Shira Ovide in The New York Times. Legal experts often say “it’s tricky to sue technology giants for breaking antitrust laws,” because U.S. competition laws rely on the notion of consumer harm, which is difficult to prove with tech companies whose services are “used and loved by billions of people.” But Racine says Amazon is hurting the public “the same way the 19thcentury railroads and steel giants did—by strongarming competition.” The case is small now—the suit cites violations of Washington, D.C., law, not federal law—but it “might become a blueprint for crimping Big Tech power.”