Amazon’s cloud unit faces FTC antitrust review – Orange County Register

By David McLaughlin, Dina Bass and Naomi Nix | Bloomberg

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is continuing antitrust review of Amazon.com Inc.’s cloud computing activities, according to people familiar with the matter.

Lina Khan, agency director and vocal critic of the online retailer, pushes forward an investigation launched several years ago by her predecessor.

FTC investigators have contacted companies in recent months to gather information on competition concerns with Amazon web services, said the people, who declined to be named because they were not authorized to speak. public awareness. At least one of the contacts was as recent as in recent weeks, one of the people said.

The focus on Amazon’s $ 16 billion cloud business, which generates the bulk of the e-commerce giant’s profits, comes as Khan has set his sights on driving America’s biggest tech companies. Khan, a former Columbia Law School professor, has risen to prominence in antitrust circles, warning of threats companies like Amazon pose to competition in the digital economy.

Amazon fell almost 1% to $ 3,381 in New York after Bloomberg broke the news.

One question the FTC could consider is whether Amazon has incentives to discriminate against software companies that sell their products to AWS customers, while competing with Amazon. The fear is that Amazon could punish companies that work with other cloud providers and favor those that it works with exclusively.

The FTC’s investigation into Amazon began during the Trump administration under former President Joe Simons. The agency has conducted investigations into Amazon’s retail operations as well as the cloud division, Bloomberg reported. The renewed awareness among companies shows that the probe is active.

Amazon provided information to the FTC in response to the agency’s requests, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Amazon and the FTC did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The company filed a petition with the agency in June asking for Khan to challenge antitrust enforcement decisions against Amazon. The company argues that its past criticism of the company shows that it is one-sided.

AWS leads the market for fundamental cloud computing technology that provides the storage and computing power needed to run applications. It’s several times the size of its next biggest rival, Microsoft Corp.’s Azure, according to analyst estimates.

Amazon also sells a line of products that run in addition to these core services, such as databases, machine learning tools, and data warehousing products. It competes with hundreds of other software companies, large and small, that offer similar products.

Cloud computing companies like Amazon, Microsoft, and Oracle Corp. compete for lucrative government contracts to provide cloud services to agencies such as the Department of Defense and the National Security Agency.

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