The District of Columbia sued Amazon on Tuesday, alleging that agreements that stop third-party sellers from offering lower prices elsewhere on the internet violate antitrust laws, the district's attorney general, Karl Racine, announced.
Because Amazon controls the majority of the online retail sales, the agreements force outside merchants to charge customers prices that incorporate the fees from the giant retail platform, Racine said.
"Without these restraints, products would be available to consumers at lower prices," Racine said in a call.
State attorneys general and federal antitrust enforcers have been targeting big tech companies, with massive lawsuits filed against Google and Facebook. Investigators have also probed Amazon and Apple, but Racine said he didn't know if other government enforcers would be joining the suit, which focuses on the district's competition law.
Amazon has said that it faces robust competition and accounts for just a small percentage of overall U.S. retail sales.
The company's relationship with third-party sellers has produced numerous complaints, as well as a U.S. Federal Trade Commission investigation.