Lawmakers question whether Amazon misled Congress
A bipartisan group of lawmakers on the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee is calling on Amazon to provide information about the company’s business practices following a series of reports lawmakers said indicated the e-commerce giant’s executives misled Congress.
“We strongly encourage you to make use of this opportunity to correct the record and provide the Committee with sworn, truthful, and accurate responses to this request as we consider whether a referral of this matter to the Department of Justice for criminal investigation is appropriate,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter sent to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy on Monday.
The letter is signed by subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline (D-R.I.), ranking member Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.). It cites reports last week from Reuters and The Markup that found Amazon boosted its own products on its e-commerce site ahead of products from competing brands.
The findings in the reports contradict the information Amazon executives have given while they testified before the antitrust panel.
“At best, this reporting confirms that Amazon’s representatives misled the Committee. At worst, it demonstrates that they may have lied to Congress in possible violation of federal criminal law,” the lawmakers wrote.
The lawmakers are asking Amazon to respond with detailed answers about its policies by Nov. 1.
An Amazon spokesperson said the company “did not mislead the committee.”
“As we have previously stated, we have an internal policy, which goes beyond that of any other retailer’s policy that we’re aware of, that prohibits the use of individual seller data to develop Amazon private label products. We investigate any allegations that this policy may have been violated and take appropriate action. In addition, we design our search experience to feature the items customers will want to purchase, regardless of whether they are offered by Amazon or one of our selling partners,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
The spokesperson also pushed back on the reports cited in the letter, reiterating the company’s public position that it does not favor Amazon store brand products through its search.
The letter follows the committee’s ongoing scrutiny of Amazon’s market power, stemming from the investigation of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google that the House Judiciary Committee opened in 2019.
The results of the investigation led the committee to create a series of proposals aimed at curbing the tech giant’s market power. The committee advanced the bills in June with bipartisan support, but they still face a rough road ahead with opposition on both sides of the aisle.