Warren calls for Amazon breakup

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is seen during a Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee hearing to discuss oversight of the CARES Act within the Federal Reserve and Department of Treasury on Tuesday, September 28, 2021.
Greg Nash

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is calling for the breakup of Amazon after Reuters reported that the online retail giant created knock-off products and manipulated product searches in India. 

In response to the report, Warren tweeted that the documents at the heart of the news service’s article “show what we feared about Amazon’s monopoly power—that the company is willing and able to rig its platform to benefit its bottom line while stiffing small businesses and entrepreneurs.”

“This is one of the many reasons we need to break it up,” she added.

Reuters, citing internal emails, strategy papers and plans, reported on Wednesday that Amazon ran a campaign to copy products and then sell them on its own platform in India, which is one of the company’s largest growth markets. According to the news service, Amazon’s private-brands team in India exploited internal data to copy products from other platforms and then offer them on Amazon. 

Employees also increased sales of Amazon private-brand products by rigging search results so that the company’s products would appear in “the first 2 or three … search results,” Reuters reported, citing a strategy document.

Documents further reportedly revealed that Amazon employees studied proprietary data about other brands on its Indian platform to “replicate” the products.

The company has a policy against using data from third-party sellers to boost its own label, Reuters noted, adding that then-Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in testimony before a House committee last year that he could not guarantee that the company has adhered to the policy.

“We have a policy against using seller-specific data to aid our private label business,” Bezos testified last year. “But I can’t guarantee you that that policy has never been violated.” 

At the time, The Wall Street Journal reported that the company used information from other sellers to make decisions on its private-label business. 

Amazon didn’t comment on Warren’s statement when reached by The Hill. But in response to the Reuters report, the company said it was “unable to confirm the veracity or otherwise of the information and claims as stated.”

“We believe these claims are factually incorrect and unsubstantiated,” the company continued. “We continue to focus on delivering first-class service to consumers, and helping India’s small businesses reach customers around the world.”

Tags Amazon Big tech Elizabeth Warren Jeff Bezos monopolies
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