Long-Awaited Antitrust Complaint Against Amazon Tees Up a Major Loss for the FTC, ITIF Predicts
WASHINGTON—Commenting on the Federal Trade Commission’s long-awaited antitrust lawsuit against Amazon, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the leading think tank for science and technology policy, released the following statement from Joe Coniglio, director of ITIF’s Schumpeter Project on Competition Policy:
The FTC’s complaint recycles old-hat concerns about Amazon that Chair Khan first began to articulate in the law review article on “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox” that vaulted her to prominence. The challenge will obviously be popular with the Neo-Brandeisian movement, but based on the substance of the claims it appears likely the FTC has teed up another major loss in its ongoing crusade against “Big Tech.”
Rather than harm competition, Amazon’s pricing and fulfillment practices have clear consumer benefits in the form of lower prices and better service. And the theory that by allegedly tying Amazon Prime and its fulfillment service Amazon is somehow maintaining its retail position seems to be a real antitrust paradox worthy of the name.
At the end of the day, allegations that Amazon wields monopoly power are unfounded. Contrary to the FTC’s complaint, there is intense competition in retail, both online and offline. The narrow markets that the FTC is attempting to define are highly unlikely to hold up in court.
The case against Amazon also reflects a bid to push beyond the bounds of existing antitrust standards. The FTC appears to have invoked its misconstrued standalone authority to prohibit “unfair methods of competition” as the legal rationale for condemning an Amazon algorithm. Courts will almost certainly rebuff that idea.
For more on this issue, see:
- Robert Atkinson and Michael Ward, “The Flawed Analysis Underlying Calls for Antitrust Reform: Revisiting Lina Khan’s “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox” (ITIF, 2023).
The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute focusing on the intersection of technological innovation and public policy. Recognized by its peers in the think tank community as the global center of excellence for science and technology policy, ITIF’s mission is to formulate and promote policy solutions that accelerate innovation and boost productivity to spur growth, opportunity, and progress.