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Connecticut probes Amazon's digital books business for anti-competitive behavior

(Reuters) - Connecticut is investigating Amazon.com Inc for potential anti-competitive behavior in its business selling digital books, the state’s attorney general said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Amazon is seen on the door of an Amazon Books retail store in New York City, U.S., February 14, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The probe is one of many into the e-commerce platform’s business practices. Amazon is also under investigation by the attorneys general in New York, California and Washington state and the Federal Trade Commission.

“Connecticut has an active and ongoing antitrust investigation into Amazon regarding potentially anticompetitive terms in their e-book distribution agreements with certain publishers,” Attorney General William Tong said in a statement to Reuters.

The probe comes as technology platforms face a backlash in the United States and across the world, fueled by concerns among regulators, lawmakers and consumer groups that firms have too much power and are harming users and business rivals.

Tong said his office has previously taken action against companies such as Apple Inc and a number of e-book publishers to protect competition in that market and will continue to monitor it aggressively.

An Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment.

Amazon enjoys a dominant market share in the e-book business, whose rivals include Barnes & Noble, Apple and Alphabet’s Google.

A scathing antitrust report in October from the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel published details of what it said was Amazon’s anti-competitive behavior and suggested barring the company from operating its online marketplace, in which it also competes. Amazon had pushed back against the report before it was released, saying that market interventions “would kill off independent retailers and punish consumers by forcing small businesses out of popular online stores, raising prices and reducing consumer choice.”

Amazon’s online marketplace has come under increasing scrutiny over how it treats sellers, gathers data from such sellers and launches competing products.

In 2012, the U.S. Justice Department alleged in an antitrust lawsuit that Apple along with five major publishers had worked together to raise prices of digital books. The publishers settled but Apple went to trial and lost.

Reporting by Arundhati Sarkar in Bengaluru and Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Leslie Adler

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