FTC probes Amazon’s $1.7bn acquisition of Roomba maker

21 Sep 2022

Image: © Mike Mareen/Stock.adobe.com

As privacy advocates have raised concerns about the deal, the US antitrust watchdog has requested additional information from both companies.

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is looking into Amazon’s plans to buy cleaning robot maker iRobot.

The tech and e-commerce giant revealed plans to buy the company behind the robot vacuum cleaner Roomba last month, in an all-cash deal valued at $1.7bn.

However, according to an investor filing from iRobot, both companies received a request for “additional information and documentary materials” from the FTC as it reviews the proposed merger.

The acquisition had already invited scrutiny from privacy advocates.

Earlier this month, a group of about 20 pro-privacy, digital rights and worker organisations urged US antitrust enforcers to stop the deal, claiming that it “represents an urgent threat to consumer privacy and competition in the digital economy”.

“Linking iRobot devices to the already intrusive Amazon home system incentivises more data collection from more connected home devices, potentially including private details about our habits and our health that would endanger human rights and safety,” the letter said.

The FTC plans to investigate whether or not the data generated by iRobot’s Roomba vacuum will give Amazon an unfair advantage over other retailers, according to Politico.

This is not the only investigation Amazon is facing from the FTC. The antitrust watchdog is also probing the tech giant’s $3.9bn acquisition of health organisation One Medical.

Additionally, the regulator has been investigating sign-up and cancellation processes for Amazon’s Prime programme since March 2021.

Amazon recently claimed that the FTC was seeking to “harass” both its current chief executive Andy Jassy and former CEO Jeff Bezos by demanding they testify at an investigative hearing “on an open-ended list of topics”, which the company said was “grossly unreasonable” and “unduly burdensome”.

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Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic