U.S. sues Amazon, alleging illegal pricing practices

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STORY: The U.S. Federal Trade Commission filed a long-awaited antitrust lawsuit against Amazon on Tuesday, claiming the online retailer harms consumers by keeping prices artificially high.

It is the latest legal action by the U.S. government aimed at breaking Big Tech's dominance, and comes after years of complaints that Amazon and other tech giants abused their control of search, social media and online retailing to become gate keepers of the most lucrative parts of the internet.

The lawsuit, which was joined by 17 state attorneys general, follows a four-year investigation and federal lawsuits filed against Alphabet's Google and Meta Platforms' Facebook.

In a statement, the FTC accused Amazon specifically of degrading quality for shoppers, overcharging sellers, and preventing rivals from fairly competing against the company, among other claims.

The agency said it was asking for a permanent injunction ordering Amazon to stop its unlawful conduct.

It also asked the court to consider forcing Amazon to sell assets to restore fair competition.

Amazon said the lawsuit was wrongheaded and would hurt consumers by leading to higher prices and slower deliveries.

The need to take action against Big Tech has been one of the few issues that Democrats and Republicans in Congress have agreed on.

Tuesday’s lawsuit is also not the first against Amazon by the FTC. The agency in June sued the online behemoth for allegedly “duping” millions of consumers into signing up for its paid subscription Amazon Prime service without their consent and making it hard for them to cancel.

Amazon has called those claims "false on the facts and the law."

The company also faces suits from state attorneys general – and class actions by individual consumers, exposing the retail giant to billions of dollars in potential damages.

Amazon shares fell as much as three and a half percent in Tuesday afternoon trading.