Amazon sued for allegedly preventing customers from canceling their Prime subscriptions

The tech giant hindered users from opting out of the paid subscription by manipulating "dark patterns," according to the Federal Trade Commission.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed a lawsuit against Amazon in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington for allegedly hindering its customers from unsubscribing from Prime. The independent agency, which aims to protect individuals from deceptive and fraudulent practices and promote competition, alleged that Amazon manipulated so-called "dark patterns" to make it impossible for users to stop paying for the subscription.

In the lawsuit, the FTC specifies how Amazon tried to coerce customers into continuing their subscription to the paid version without their consent:

During Amazon’s online checkout process, consumers were faced with numerous opportunities to subscribe to Amazon Prime at $14.99/month. In many cases, the option to purchase items on Amazon without subscribing to Prime was more difficult for consumers to locate. In some cases, the button presented to consumers to complete their transaction did not clearly state that in choosing that option they were also agreeing to join Prime for a recurring subscription.

Through her Twitter account, FTC chairwoman Lina Khan detailed the reasons for taking legal action against the tech giant:

In addition, Khan offered her solution to prevent further such frauds from occurring:

This lawsuit builds on our ongoing work to protect Americans from firms who trick people into subscriptions and then trap them by making it hard to cancel, including through using "dark patterns." Our proposed "click to cancel" rule would require that firms make it as easy to cancel a subscription as it is to sign up for one.