Amazon urges FTC to remove officials from investigation

WASHINGTON – Amazon is calling on the new chief of the Federal Trade Commission to stop the antitrust investigation into the e-commerce giant as her past public criticism of the company’s market power makes it impossible for her to be impartial.

Amazon on Wednesday requested the agency to remove chairwoman Lina Khan from participating in recent investigations into the company’s market behavior. Khan was a critic of technology giants Facebook, Google, and Apple, as well as Amazon. She joined the cartel scene in 2017 and wrote an influential study titled “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox” when she was a law student at Yale.

FTC officials declined to comment on Amazon’s request.

As advisor to an antitrust committee of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee in 2019 and 2020, Khan played a key role in a bipartisan investigation into the market power of the four tech giants.

President Joe Biden recently installed Khan as one of five commissioners and as head of the FTC, signaling a tough stance on the largest tech companies and their market dominance. At 32, she is the youngest chairman in the agency’s history, committed to promoting competition and consumer protection in industry, as well as digital privacy.

“Due process entitles all individuals and companies to a fair review of the merits of an investigation or judgment by impartial commissioners who did not – and, importantly – apparently did not anticipate the matter directed against them,” Seattle-based Amazon said in the application.

The FTC has investigated the tech giants. On Monday, a federal judge dismissed antitrust lawsuits by the FTC and a coalition of states against Facebook for failing to provide enough evidence to prove Facebook has a monopoly on the social networking market. However, the judge allowed the FTC to revise their complaint and try again.

Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, controls 50 to 70% of online market sales, according to regulators. Founded by Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest individual, Amazon runs an e-commerce empire and ventures into cloud computing, personal “smart” technology, and more.

Some independent retailers who sell products on have complained about the company’s practices, such as contractual provisions preventing sellers from selling their products at lower prices or on better terms on other online platforms, including their own websites to offer.

Amazon has stated in its defense that sellers set their own prices for the products they offer on the company’s platform.

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