FTC Files Antitrust Lawsuit Against Amazon, Revealing Mysterious ‘Project Nessie’ Algorithm


The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has recently filed an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon, alleging anti-competitive practices. While many allegations were already known, the complaint also includes references to a mysterious algorithm known as “Project Nessie.” The redactions surrounding this project have sparked curiosity and speculation about its nature and potential impact.

Key Takeaway

The FTC’s antitrust lawsuit against Amazon includes references to “Project Nessie,” a mysterious algorithm and operation within the company. The redactions surrounding Nessie have fueled speculation about its purpose, with possibilities ranging from manipulating prices to favoring certain sellers through search algorithms. As the lawsuit proceeds, more information about Nessie may emerge, shedding light on this enigmatic project.

The Enigma of Project Nessie

Project Nessie is mentioned multiple times throughout the FTC’s complaint against Amazon. The redactions amplify the intrigue but may also exaggerate its significance. The first mention on page 6 reveals that Project Nessie is an operation that has already extracted a substantial amount from American households. While it is unclear what exactly is being extracted, it appears to be something quantifiable, such as money or data.

One clue about Project Nessie comes from a 2018 Amazon blog post, which describes it as a system used to monitor spikes or trends on However, it is uncertain if this definition remains accurate, given the timeline of events described in the lawsuit.

Additionally, the FTC’s complaint highlights that Project Nessie generates over a certain amount of excess profit for Amazon, suggesting that it contributes to the company’s financial success indirectly rather than directly. The redacted reference to Nessie as a “[redacted] algorithm” raises further questions, leaving room for speculation about its purpose.

Unveiling the Secrets

A significant portion of the lawsuit is dedicated to Project Nessie, emphasizing its importance. It is referred to as an algorithm that contradicts Amazon’s public claim of being customer-centric. Section 7 of the lawsuit, which is entirely redacted, provides a tantalizing glimpse into the undisclosed details of Nessie.

Speculation surrounding Project Nessie revolves around two main possibilities. Firstly, it could involve manipulating prices based on extensive sales data, resulting in subtle changes to item prices that customers encounter daily. This would align with the allegations of manipulating price competition. Secondly, given Amazon’s known manipulation of search results, it is plausible that Nessie is also involved in favoring certain sellers through search algorithms.

While Project Nessie remains shrouded in secrecy, it is apparent that Amazon prefers not to discuss it openly. However, as the lawsuit progresses, more information about Nessie may come to light. The court may require Amazon to justify its extensive redactions, potentially revealing some of the secrets behind Project Nessie.

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