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Connecticut probes Amazon’s e-book business for anti-competitive practices

Connecticut is investigating Amazon.com Inc. for potentially competitive conduct in its digital book business, the state attorney general said Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: The Amazon logo was photographed at a shopping center in Mannheim, Germany, on September 17, 2019. REUTERS / Ralph Orlowski / Photo File

Research is one of the many activities in the e-commerce business. Amazon is also being investigated by lawyers in New York, California and Washington, and the Federal Trade Commission.

“Connecticut is conducting a thorough and ongoing investigation into Amazon into names that could contradict their e-book distribution agreements with certain publishers,” Attorney General William Tong said in a statement to Reuters.

Investigations come as technology platforms face harassment in the United States and around the world, sparking concerns among regulators, lawmakers, and consumer groups that firms are too powerful and hurt consumers and business competitors.

Tong said his office had previously taken steps against companies such as Apple Inc and a number of e-book publishers to prevent competition in the market and would continue to monitor it vigorously.

An Amazon spokesman declined to comment.

Amazon enjoys a significant market share in the e-book business, with its competitors including Barnes & Noble, Apple, and Google Alphabet.

A hotly contested anti-trust report in October from an antitrust House of Representatives Committee panel published details of what it said was Amazon’s anticompetitive behavior and suggested it ban the company from using its online market, which also competes with it. Amazon objected to the report before it was released, saying that market interventions could “kill private sellers and punish consumers by forcing small businesses out of popular online stores, raising prices and reducing consumer preferences.”

Amazon’s online marketplace has been under increasing scrutiny of how it treats retailers, gathering information from such retailers, and introducing competing products.

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice appeared in court to defend that Apple and five major publishers have worked together to raise the prices of digital books. Publishers remained but Apple went to trial and lost.

Report by Arundhati Sarkar in Bangalore and Nandita Bose in Washington; Edited by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Leslie Adler

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