Amazon must provide records to Competition Bureau, court order says

Click to play video: 'U.S. regulators, 17 states suing Amazon over alleged illegal monopoly'
U.S. regulators, 17 states suing Amazon over alleged illegal monopoly
WATCH: U.S. regulators, 17 states suing Amazon over alleged illegal monopoly – Sep 27, 2023

Canada’s Competition Bureau said Wednesday that it has obtained a second court order in its investigation into Amazon.

In a statement, the Bureau said the second order is to gather information and advance its investigation into Amazon, which is looking into potentially false or misleading claims made by the company.

The order, which has been granted by the Federal Court of Canada, will require Amazon to provide records and written information. The first court order required Meta Platforms, owner of Instagram and Facebook, to provide information and was granted on June 29, 2023.

The Bureau said its investigation, initially launched in November 2021, is looking into “claims made by Amazon that may be influenced by reviews and ratings” that could affect how products are ranked on its website and app, according to the statement.

Ultimately, the Bureau is trying to determine whether Amazon’s marketing practices “raise concerns under the deceptive marketing provisions of the Competition Act,” the statement read.

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“There is no conclusion of wrongdoing at this time.”

It is the second investigation the Bureau has launched against Amazon, the first opened in 2020 to look into the company’s market dominance.

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In a statement to Global News on Wednesday, Amazon Canada said that it is continuing to collaborate with the Bureau in its investigation and it is sharing information about its commitment to fighting fake or “improperly incentivized” reviews.

“Amazon has invested significant resources to proactively stop incentivized reviews using machine-learning models, expert investigators, and legal action, among other tools,” the company said.

“Understanding that fake reviews are a global issue affecting different industries, Amazon has long welcomed greater collaboration across the private and public sector to protect customers from bad actors.”

Click to play video: 'FTC, 17 U.S. states sue Amazon for being illegal monopoly'
FTC, 17 U.S. states sue Amazon for being illegal monopoly

The Bureau’s initial investigation in 2020 was announced roughly a year after the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) began looking into Amazon itself. The FTC ended up launching an antitrust lawsuit against the company in September 2023, and was joined by 17 other states.

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The FTC and states allege that Amazon violates antitrust laws “not because it is big, but because it engages in a course of exclusionary conduct that prevents current competitors from growing and new competitors from emerging.”

They allege the company engages in anti-competitive practices through anti-discounting measures that deter sellers from offering lower prices for products on non-Amazon sites.

The complaint says Amazon can “bury” listings from sellers if they’re found to be offering lower prices on other sites, making those sellers “effectively invisible” in Amazon search results.

In a statement to Global News in September 2023, David Zapolsky, Amazon’s general counsel and senior vice-president of global public policy, said that if the FTC’s lawsuit is successful, it will drive up prices for consumers, slow down deliveries, and hurt small businesses reliant on Amazon’s platform.

“(The) suit makes clear the FTC’s focus has radically departed from its mission of protecting consumers and competition,” he said, adding the lawsuit was “wrong on the facts.”

— with files from Global News’ Sean Boynton. 

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