The Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday sued Amazon for illegally inducing consumers to sign up for its Prime service and then hindering them from canceling the subscription, the most aggressive action against the company to date by the agency’s chair, Lina Khan. From a report: The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, argues that Amazon had used design tactics on its website known as “dark patterns” to nudge people into subscribing to Prime, the F.T.C. said in a release. And when consumers wanted to cancel, they had to go through a byzantine process to do so.
“Amazon tricked and trapped people into recurring subscriptions without their consent, not only frustrating users but also costing them significant money,” Ms. Khan said in a statement. The lawsuit was the first time that the F.T.C. has taken Amazon to court under Ms. Khan, who rose to fame with a viral critique of the company and who is ramping up scrutiny of the e-commerce giant. Ms. Khan has said the power that big tech companies have over online commerce requires regulators to be far more aggressive and has begun taking actions against them./i.