Amazon could be on tap to receive more antitrust scrutiny under an agreement by regulators in the U.S.
According to a report in The Washington Post citing people familiar with the matter, under the agreement the Federal Trade Commission more closely regulates the eCommerce giant. It comes as the FTC and the Department of Justice quietly split up the oversight of competition for the country’s big tech companies. The Justice Department will have more authority over Google, which The Washington Post reported will pave the way for it to launch an antitrust investigation into the search giant. The paper noted it’s not clear what the FTC has planned in the case of Amazon and what the Department of Justice will do with Google. The arrangement, noted the report, is bad news for Amazon since the FTC usually means more antitrust scrutiny that many lawmakers from both parties have been calling for. The Department of Justice and the FTC both declined to comment.
“If there is an active discussion of where the boundaries are, that would indicate there’s a reason for that discussion, whether it’s a new interest, study or investigation,” said Maureen Ohlhausen, a partner at the law firm Baker Botts who previously served as chair of the FTC, told The Washington Post. The European Union has long taken the lead in going after the tech companies and their practices regarding privacy and advertising.
The U.S. isn’t the only country potentially going after Amazon. In April the Italian Competition Authority (ICA) launched an investigation into five separate Amazon outfits to determine whether the company is taking advantage of its position as the foremost logistical and eCommerce service, according to a report from Reuters. The companies being investigated are: Amazon Services Europe, Amazon Europe Core, Amazon EU, Amazon Italia Services and Amazon Italia Logistica. The ICA claimed Amazon gave conditions to third-party sellers, such as offering specific benefits only if they signed up with Amazon.