Lawmakers Demand Testimony From Jeff Bezos Over Amazon Business Practices

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The House Judiciary Committee is calling on Amazon founder and CEO to testify after a report that the online giant is exploiting third-party data to gain a competitive advantage for its own products.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon scooped up data from independent sellers on its platform and then used it to create competing products. Lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee say that this contradicts testimony from Amazon’s associate general counsel, Nate Sutton, who denied that the company engaged in the practice in sworn testimony on July 16.

“If the reporting in the Wall Street Journal article is accurate, then statements Amazon made to the Committee about the company’s business practices appear to be misleading, and possibly criminally false or perjurious,” members of the Judiciary Committee wrote in their letter. It was signed by the committee’s chairman, Jerry Nadler (D-NY), as well as the chair and ranking members of the antitrust subcommittee, Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) and Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI). Four other lawmakers signed the letter.

They are requesting that Bezos appear before the committee, under threat of a potential subpoena.

“It is vital to the Committee, as part of its critical work investigating and understanding competition issues in the digital market, that Amazon respond to these and other critical questions concerning competition issues in digital markets,” they wrote. “Although we expect that you will testify on a voluntary basis, we reserve the right to resort to compulsory process if necessary.”

Amazon did have any immediate comment on the letter. But earlier this week, a company spokesperson responded to claims that it misled Congress.

“As we told the Wall Street Journal and explained in our testimony, we strictly prohibit employees from using non-public, seller-specific data to determine which private label products to launch,” the spokesperson said. “While we don’t believe these claims made in the Journal story are accurate, we take these allegations very seriously and have launched an internal investigation.”

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