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D.C. Attorney General Sues Amazon for Illegally Raising Prices

Calls for antitrust action against Jeff Bezos's online giant are gaining bipartisan support.

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Washington D.C.’s attorney general Karl Racine filed a lawsuit on Tuesday accusing Amazon’s retail monopoly of violating antitrust laws and artificially inflating consumer prices, according to the New York Post

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Vendors on Amazon (AMZN) cannot offer lower prices on their products  -- even on their own websites -- which the suit alleges in unlawful. 

“[Amazon] maximizes its profits at the expense of third-party sellers and consumers, while harming competition, stifling innovation and illegally tilting the playing field in its favor," Racine said. "[We] filed this antitrust lawsuit to put an end to Amazon’s illegal control of prices across the online retail market.”

Related: Amazon to Retire Beloved Prime Now Service

Amazon has control over 50% to 70% of the global online retail market which means sellers must choose between setting fair prices or losing access to the market, according to Racine.

But an Amazon spokesperson argues that the lawsuit, if successful, will end up resulting in higher prices on the site.

“Amazon takes pride in the fact that we offer low prices across the broadest selection, and like any store we reserve the right not to highlight offers to customers that are not priced competitively. The relief the AG seeks would force Amazon to feature higher prices to customers, oddly going against core objectives of antitrust law.”

Related: Who Temporarily Dethroned Jeff Bezos as Richest Man In the World This Week?

The antitrust lawsuit was filed in D.C. Superior Court which means any decision would only apply to Amazon’s operations in that city.  

However, University of California, Berkeley’s professor of law and economics, Aaron Edlin, expects broader federal suits to follow in the next few years.   

Related: What the Future of Ecommerce Looks Like

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