New York Times: D.C. Accuses Amazon of Controlling Online Prices

May 25, 2021 Media

WASHINGTON — The District of Columbia sued Amazon on Tuesday, accusing it of artificially raising prices for products around the web by abusing its monopoly power, a sign that regulators in the United States are increasingly turning their attention to the company’s dominance across the economy.

In the lawsuit, believed to be the first government antitrust suitagainst Amazon in the United States, the district government said Amazon had effectively prohibited merchants that use its platform from charging lower prices for the same products elsewhere online. That, in turn, raised prices for those products not just on Amazon’s website but in other marketplaces as well, it said.

The suit from Mr. Racine is somewhat limited in scope. It was not joined by prosecutors in other states or U.S. jurisdictions, meaning that Mr. Racine cannot draw on the resources of other attorneys general in court. In contrast, the antitrust lawsuits by states against Facebook and Google were jointly filed late last year by dozens of attorneys general.

In addition, because the suit was filed in the district’s court instead of a federal court, any judgment or settlement would only apply to Washington, D.C.

Critics of Amazon’s size and power still hailed the move.

The suit “comes as momentum to break the extraordinary and dangerous power of Big Tech reaches new heights,” said Sarah Miller, executive director of the Economic Liberties Project, a progressive antimonopoly group.