What the FTC’s antitrust lawsuit means for Amazon

The Federal Trade Commission and 17 states claim the tech giant abused its power in an effort to stamp out competition. Neil Chilson, a former chief technologist at the FTC, says the commission’s case could be difficult to prove.

“Amazon is a monopolist.” Those words are from the opening paragraphs of a lawsuit filed Tuesday against the e-commerce giant by the Federal Trade Commission and 17 states.

They say Amazon uses strategies that prevent sellers on its online marketplace from lowering prices on other platforms and compels them to use Amazon’s logistics service to be eligible for Amazon Prime.

That is the abridged version of the FTC’s 172-page filing, parts of which are heavily redacted. An algorithm allegedly fueling much of this, which is referred to as Project Nessie, also makes an appearance.

In a statement, Amazon called the case “wrong on the facts and the law,” adding it looks forward to making that case in court.

Marketplace’s Lily Jamali spoke to Neil Chilson, the former chief technologist at the FTC and currently a research fellow at the Center for Growth and Opportunity, about the FTC’s lawsuit. He said Amazon’s argument will likely hinge on the value it’s created for consumers and sellers.

CGO scholars and fellows frequently comment on a variety of topics for the popular press. The views expressed therein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Center for Growth and Opportunity or the views of Utah State University.