The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has sued Amazon, accusing the company of subscribing millions of its customers to its paid Amazon Prime service without their knowledge.

The US anti-trust watchdog claims the e-commerce giant “knowingly duped millions of consumers into unknowingly enrolling in Amazon Prime.”

Amazon responded to the accusations and dubbed them “false on the facts and the law”.

The Amazon Prime service gives consumers access to a video-streaming platform, discounts, and next-day delivery. The FTC said the service generates $25bn in annual revenue, according to the complaint. 

The FTC also alleges that the company made it purposely difficult for consumers to cancel the paid subscription, after using “manipulative, coercive or deceptive user-interface designs known as ‘dark patterns’ to trick consumers into enrolling in automatically renewing Prime subscriptions”.

The lawsuit, filed in a federal Seattle court, follows a March 2021 investigation into the sign-up and cancellation protocol for Amazon’s Prime service by the FTC. 

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The watchdog said consumers had to jump through several steps in order to cancel the subscription. 

President Joe Biden’s administration has been set on attempting to pull in some of the dominance of Big Tech firms like Amazon. The FTC is seeking a permanent injunction on Amazon and civil penalties, according to Reuters

“The truth is that customers love Prime, and by design we make it clear and simple for customers to both sign up for or cancel their Prime membership,” Amazon said in a statement. 

The e-commerce giant said it was “concerning that the FTC announced this lawsuit without notice to us” and claimed they had been in the middle of talks with the watchdog to “ensure they understand the facts, context, and legal issues”.