Federal Trade Commission investigators are reportedly interviewing small businesses to see whether Amazon has affected their revenue in what could be another big tech antitrust probe.
The interviews suggest that the tech giant could be facing an FTC probe into whether it is stifling market competition for small businesses that sell products on its website, Bloomberg Technology reported Wednesday, citing three merchants who said they were in contact with the FTC.
Amazon said it does not have a response to Bloomberg’s report, but pointed to a June statement from Jeff Wilke, Amazon’s CEO of worldwide consumer operations.
“We believe that most substantial entities in the economy deserve scrutiny. Our job is to build the kind of company that passes that scrutiny with flying colors,” he said.
The U.S. has launched an antitrust probe into Amazon by interviewing third-party merchants. https://t.co/b7ljolj0LX via @technology
— Kevin Whitelaw (@KevinWhitelaw1) September 11, 2019
“I think that substantial entities in the economy deserve scrutiny and our job is to build a company that passes that scrutiny,” Wilke added.
Small business owners have apparently been participating in 90-minute interviews with several attorneys and at least one economist to discuss their revenue acquired from Amazon compared to other online marketplaces like eBay and Walmart.
“Early in an investigation, that’s a sign of staff doing a serious job,” former FTC attorney Michael Kades told Bloomberg. “They’re spending lots of time with witnesses and trying to really understand what they’re saying.”
The probe comes a day after 50 attorneys general from 48 states, Puerto Rico and D.C. on Monday announced a bipartisan antitrust probe into Google and its potential to stifle market competition. (RELATED: Amazon Makes $700 Million Investment To Retrain 100,000 Of Its US Employees By 2025)
It also came three days after New York Attorney General Letitia James announced an antitrust investigation with eight other attorneys general from Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina and Ohio into Facebook for similar monopoly concerns.
The Justice Department also opened a more broad investigation into big tech in June to determine whether companies like Amazon, Google and Facebook are using anti-competitive practices, according to The New York Times.
“If the United States does not step up, competition policy will be set elsewhere,” former FTC chairman and George Washington University Law Professor William Kovacic told the NYT.
The FTC told the DCNF it does not comment on potential investigations.
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