Amazon could soon be facing an antitrust investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Washington Post reports. According to sources said to be close to the matter, that follows an agreement apparently reached between the FTC and the other government agency responsible for providing oversight, the Department of Justice (DOJ). The agreement would see investigations into two of the nation's largest tech companies — Amazon and Google — split between the agencies.
Similarities between the companies may have left Amazon open to deeper scrutiny
News that Amazon and Google may be next to be placed under deeper scrutiny for its business practices comes following earlier reports that had already suggested that the DOJ would be taking a closer look at the search giant.
Google has been no stranger to these types of investigations over the past year or more due mostly to activities and policies that violate antitrust stringent regulations in Europe. As a result of those being labeled anticompetitive in the EU, the company has been forced to alter its policies and taken other steps to change things voluntarily. That's in addition to paying hefty fines.
Scrutiny in the US has been laxer but Amazon and Google have been just a couple of big tech companies that have come under fire from legislative bodies in the region, looking for answers about public and corporate practices. That has chiefly stemmed from just how much influence those companies — a group that has included Facebook and Twitter, among others — have in the public sphere.
Given Google's history with regulatory bodies in the EU, it isn't surprising that it may now face a closer look into its dealings in the US. The company holds a significant grip over the mobile industry in addition to advertising, web browsing, search, and has key interests in areas of AI and autonomous vehicle technologies too.
Amazon has similarly led the way in terms of technology investments and has a strong foothold in the retail space both online and off. Amazon is also one of a few companies that are reportedly considering entering into the mobile market by purchasing Boost Mobile if and when that MVNO's parent company Sprint merges with T-Mobile.
Amazon has had recent missteps in managing how it both stores and accesses user data pooled from its Alexa AI and associated devices. Namely, it was discovered to not only be storing recorded input but also had employees listening to select clips, presumably for quality control purposes.
The company has since taken steps to allow end users to delete their stored data but the discovery leaves plenty of questions left to be answered.
None of that is obviously or immediately indicative of a breach in antitrust laws. But the similarities between Amazon's mistakes and some of Google's may have left just enough questions about exactly how wide its reach is and whether it is breaking any antitrust laws with its practices to spur a closer look.
This isn't quite a full investigation …yet
Details of the purported agreement are still slim and neither of the agencies has, as of this writing, commented on the matter. For now, the sources claim that no full investigation is ongoing. Instead, the current iteration of the arrangement appears to center around splitting efforts to review the two companies between the agencies.
Although either agency retains the option to take action based on any findings of the probe, it won't necessarily lead to any actions being taken either.