Amazon under fire again as state probes books business for antitrust behaviour
Connecticut is investigating the platform’s distribution agreements with publishers
Washington/Bengaluru — Connecticut is investigating Amazon.com for potential anticompetitive behaviour in its business selling digital books, the state’s attorney general said on Wednesday.
The probe is one of many into the e-commerce platform’s business practices. Amazon is also under investigation by the attorneys-general in New York, California and Washington state and the Federal Trade Commission.
"Connecticut has an active and ongoing antitrust investigation into Amazon regarding potentially anticompetitive terms in their e-book distribution agreements with certain publishers," attorney-general William Tong said.
The probe comes as technology platforms face a backlash in the US and across the world, fuelled by concerns among regulators, legislators and consumer groups that firms have too much power and are harming users and business rivals.
Tong said his office has previously taken action against companies such as Apple and a number of e-book publishers to protect competition in that market and will continue to monitor it aggressively.
An Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment.
Amazon enjoys a dominant market share in the e-book business, whose rivals include Barnes & Noble, Apple and Alphabet’s Google.
A scathing antitrust report in October from the US House of Representatives judiciary committee’s antitrust panel published details of what it said was Amazon’s anticompetitive behaviour and suggested barring the company from operating its online marketplace, in which it also competes. Amazon had pushed back against the report before it was released, saying market interventions "would kill off independent retailers and punish consumers by forcing small businesses out of popular online stores, raising prices and reducing consumer choice".
Amazon’s online marketplace has come under increasing scrutiny over how it treats sellers, gathers data from such sellers and launches competing products.
In 2012, the US justice department alleged in an antitrust lawsuit that Apple along with five major publishers had worked together to raise prices of digital books. The publishers settled but Apple went to trial and lost.
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