The FTC’s Lina Khan Finally Begins to Crackdown on Amazon

The FTC's Lina Khan Finally Begins to Crackdown on Amazon

In 2017, Leena Khan, then a 29-year-old law student, became famous with an academic article on why Amazon should be regulated. Criticizing prevailing trends in antitrust law, Khan argued that e-commerce giants were unfairly dominating large parts of the US economy.

Now chair of the FTC, Ms. Khan has finally taken on Amazon, though her agency’s new lawsuit against the company isn’t focused on antitrust. Still, legal experts are wondering if, or when, she will follow through on the principle that first brought her to fame.

On Wednesday, the FTC accused Amazon of tricking customers into signing up for Prime, the company’s shipping-and-video-streaming service. According to the agency, Amazon used “manipulative, coercive or deceptive” design tactics on its website — known as “dark patterns” — to trick millions of people into enrolling, and the cancellation process ” intentionally complicated”.

Ms Khan said, “Amazon duped and trapped people into repeatedly subscribing without their consent.” The FTC wants courts to bar Amazon from engaging in those practices and impose financial penalties.

The company denied the FTC’s claims, calling them “wrong on the facts and in law” and arguing that it “makes things clear and simple for customers to sign up for or cancel their Prime membership”. Amazon said the FTC filed the suit without any advance notice while the two were still negotiating claims.

This is not the performance Washington was hoping for. To be fair, the F.T.C. Is John Davison, a senior lawyer at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, told The Times there has been a focus on manipulative design practices around subscriptions, and that “going after a large company like Amazon would send a message to other players in the industry.” Used to be.

Amazon had already braced itself for a battle with Ms Khan, with the go-ahead for her in 2021 FTC recused from antitrust inquiry in the company because of his earlier criticism. (Meta, the parent of Facebook and Instagram, had tried something similar before and failed.)

Still, the FTC’s Antitrust Bureau has investigated Amazon’s anti-competitive practices for years. And Khan, as head of the agency, has put into practice the broad ideas behind his law review article, leading many in Washington to speculate about when a major battle with Amazon will take place.

  • In other news, the FTC and Microsoft will Will face to face in court on Thursday On whether the tech giant’s $69 billion takeover bid for Activision Blizzard should move forward. The list of witnesses for the proceedings includes Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Activision chief Bobby Kotick.

The search for the missing submarine has entered a “critical day”. More rescue ships are set to join the efforts to find Titan, including a robot capable of reaching the ocean floor. The air supply for the five passengers on board is believed to be nearing its end, although some experts say it could be extended for a while if one breathes caution.

Senator Chuck Schumer presented a path to AI regulation. The majority leader called for an approach that prioritizes objectives such as accountability, innovation and security without endorsing any specific proposal. Insisting that Congress must “get involved in the AI ​​revolution”, Mr Schumer is hoping lawmakers can introduce a bill within a few months.

The Senate Banking Committee approved reforms to banking regulations. All members of the panel except two agreed upon harsher punishments For leaders of failed lenders, more Fed surveillance and other measures proposed in the wake of the regional banking crisis. The bipartisan move would pressure House Republicans to adopt similar legislation.

The Bank of England raised rates more than expected. central bank on thursday 0.5 percentage point increase in rates, defying forecasts that it would opt for a quarter-point increase. The decision was announced a day after the latest data showed that headline inflation in Britain was stuck at 8.7 percent in May, higher than economists had forecast.

Stocks appear to be heading for a fourth straight day of losses as investors worry that persistent inflation will pressure the Fed to raise interest rates, not just once. twice More so this year, which risks hitting the economy.

But all is not gloom in the markets, with the price of bitcoin rising on hopes that the cryptocurrency may soon go mainstream after regulatory action on some of the crypto industry’s biggest exchanges.

Investors are coming to the idea of ​​higher rates for a long time. Testifying before the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday, Fed Chairman Jay Powell said further increases in the key lending rate may be needed to discourage spending by businesses and consumers.

“Inflation pressures continue to rise and there is a long way to go to get inflation back to 2 percent,” Mr. Powell told lawmakers.

This assessment is spreading pessimism in the markets. Stocks declined, especially tech stocks that had driven the S&P 500 into a bull market just weeks earlier, on hopes that the Fed would almost certainly tighten rates.

Meanwhile, investors are bearish betting is on the rise That stock prices will go down. And economists are concerned about the consequences of ending the moratorium on federal student loan repayments.

Taking away the gloom is… bitcoin, Which reached above $ 30,000 on Thursday morning. Behind its rally is hopes that regulators will finally accept the cryptocurrency in Main Street finance: Its price has soared more than 20 percent during the past week. Blackrock filed with the SEC To run spot bitcoin exchange-traded funds. Shortly after, rival money managers followed suit. Another vote of confidence came from Mr. Powell himself, who said on Wednesday that cryptocurrencies like bitcoin have “staying power.,

The SEC has not previously approved any spot bitcoin ETF applications, out of concern that such investment products would be vulnerable to fraud and wild market fluctuations. But bitcoin enthusiasts are hoping that BlackRock – the world’s largest manager of ETFs, which has considerable influence in Washington – could change that.

“The possible assumption is that blackrock may know somethingNate Geraci, president of advisory firm The ETF Store, told Bloomberg.

As the Biden administration seeks to check China’s technological expansion in the name of national security, it is finding a new area of ​​concern, reports David McCabe of The Times: cloud computing.

The move could further complicate the digital cold war between the two countries, as US officials are sending mixed signals about how they want to deal with Beijing.

White House studying potential limits on Chinese cloud providers While they operate in the United States, they have discussed ways to restrict their development overseas. As part of that effort, officials have talked to US tech giants such as Microsoft and Alphabet about how their Chinese counterparts such as Alibaba and Huawei operate.

Behind the move are concerns that Beijing could use data centers in the US and abroad to gain access to sensitive data. Similar concerns lie behind US efforts to control Chinese telecommunications companies and the video app TikTok. Chinese companies account for a small portion of cloud services in the US, but are making inroads in Asia and Latin America.

Steps the White House is considering The Department of Commerce is tightening rules for Chinese cloud companies and is talking to foreign governments on the issue. The Biden administration is also studying ways to help US cloud providers compete with Chinese rivals that, backed by government subsidies, can cut pricing for them.

A potential Battle of the Clouds can only complicate US-China relations, Which have become crooked in recent times. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s trip to Beijing was meant to stabilize ties and generated positive noises from both sides, but the Chinese government lashed out at President Biden’s comments on Tuesday. President Xi Jinping is being compared to a dictator,

, Lisa LipmanA Manhattan real estate broker, on an apparent power shift on Wall Street: Bankers are no longer the top money makers.

As the Justice Department investigates a possible merger of the PGA Tour and Saudi-backed LIV Golf for antitrust concerns, a common question has been asked among deal watchers: Will the government In fact Defend the millionaire golfers who will be affected by the move?

Answer, DealBook hears: Possibly — and there’s a legit reason for that.

The Justice Department under President Biden is focused on labor issues. The agency’s antitrust division cited them as the rationale for its successful effort to block Penguin Random House’s takeover bid for Simon & Schuster, saying the deal would reduce author compensation. Labor concerns are also at the center of the department’s current investigation into the PGA Tour.

The department is considering building case law on the impact of deals on labour. While the “efficiencies” that companies promote as benefits of mergers often result in “fewer employees,” it is difficult to attribute those job cuts directly to acquisitions.

But it’s easier to demonstrate the effect of a deal on labor in specialized industries like sports, where athletes don’t have much choice over where they can work. Any work the Justice Department does here could lay the groundwork for opposing deals in other sectors, including entertainment, hospitals and media.

Its politics is now in favor of the regulators. When the FTC investigated the PGA Tour in the 1990s, several MLAs wrote a letter to the department defended the organization, and the investigation failed.

But Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the PGA-LIV deal changes the math in Washington. In schedule a hearing On the potential deal, Senator Richard Blumenthal, the Democratic chairman of the Senate panel looking into the matter, cited concerns about “what the Saudi takeover means for the future of this iconic American institution and our national interest”.


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