Since Lina Khan was confirmed as Chair of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in a bait-and-switch operation, she has repeatedly pummeled American companies for the sin of success.
Khan continued this crusade this week with a new lawsuit against Amazon, accusing the company of making it overly burdensome for users to cancel their Prime memberships. The only problem? It takes less clicks to cancel a Prime membership than it takes to file comments on the FTC’s website.
Multiple sources online detail simple step-by-step processes that users can employ using both their phone and desktop to cancel their membership. Business Insider, for example, provides an eight-step process for canceling on the mobile app and only a five-step process for their web browser. Many other versions of these guides exist with easy accessibility online, including from Amazon themselves. In total, this process should take no more than two minutes for the average internet user. Yet for Khan’s FTC, a two-minute slight inconvenience warrants a lawsuit.
Widespread complaints about Prime’s cancellation process do not exist because complaining about the cancellation process on social media is more time-consuming than the cancellation process itself. Khan’s FTC attempts to explain a “six-click” cancellation process as “labyrinthine” by design. As someone currently working virtually herself, Khan likely knows as well as anyone that a 6 click process is hardly burdensome. Khan is embarking on this crusade to procure more progressive political credentials, not to protect consumers.
Notably, Khan’s FTC filed this lawsuit without providing Amazon with any opportunity to explain why it should not be sued, resembling another FTC lawsuit against Meta that the company first learned of on Twitter. In the past, the FTC would provide companies with this opportunity to meet with commissioners to explain why they should not be sued. This step helped protect the agency’s credibility when suing a company. Khan has tossed this precedent by ambushing multiple companies with lawsuits and other enforcement actions without warning.
Khan’s involvement in this suit raises ethical questions given Khan’s longstanding and well-documented animus towards Amazon. An explosive report from Bloomberg this week shows that Khan ignored a recommendation to recuse herself from a lawsuit against Meta due to similar public comments. According to an FTC ethics official that asked Khan to recuse herself from the prosecution of Meta, Khan’s history of “repeatedly calling for the FTC to block future acquisition by Facebook…would raise a question in the mind of a reasonable person about Chair Khan’s impartiality as an adjudicator in the commission’s Meta/Within merger review.”
Khan’s similar, prolific comments about Amazon is what brought her to prominence in progressive circles. Given the logic used by ethics officials advising Khan to recuse herself from investigations against Meta, it would surprise no one if FTC ethics officials felt even stronger about her recusal in this case against Amazon.
Ultimately, this lawsuit is an absurd waste of taxpayer resources that is designed to burnish Khan’s progressive credentials, not to solve any real problems or address any consumer complaints.