Online retail giant Amazon is in hot water after five members of the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee accused its executives of lying about the company’s business practices.
It can be recalled that in 2019, the Big Tech Antitrust investigation was opened with the purpose of inspecting and scrutinizing the competitive practices of tech powerhouses Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google.
Since then, Amazon’s top employees, including associate general counsel Nate Sutton and general counsel David Zapolsky have appeared in front of the committee and claimed that no manipulation is being done on the e-commerce site. They also denied that they have engaged in tactics that boost the sales of its home-brand products.
Even founder Jeff Bezos has asserted that Amazon has a policy that protects the data of its merchants from employee access and that the company takes action against anyone caught violating the said policy.
However, several publications such as The Wall Street Journal have since delved into the company’s activities. Reuters has conducted a special investigation and found out that the business has been copying products from third-party merchants as part of its private-label products. In addition, The Markup has also reported that the brand is tampering with its search results to favor its own products over those of third-party sellers even when the latter’s products have better overall ratings.
These discoveries are a complete contradiction to the prior testimonies made by Amazon’s executives. In turn, these reports have led lawmakers to believe that Amazon’s executives have deliberately misled them. Among those who demand an explanation from the enterprise are Representatives Jerrold Nadler, David Cicilline, Ken Buck, Pramila Jayapal, and Matt Gaetz.
In an effort to find answers, the group has penned a letter to Chief Executive Officer Andy Jassy, which requested him to provide exculpatory evidence that proves the integrity of their previous statements.
Part of the letter read, “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.”
In addition, it stated, “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.”
But perhaps most importantly, the letter comes with an ultimatum asking the company to clear the issue. The snippet said, “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.”
However, Amazon maintains its stance, and the retail giant’s spokesperson issued an official statement which said, “Amazon and its executives did not mislead the committee, and we have denied and sought to correct the record on the inaccurate media articles in question.”