House Lawmakers Accuse Amazon of Misleading of Lying to Congress About Business Practices

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In a letter released Monday, The House Antitrust Subcommittee demanded Amazon to correct previous testimony that lawmakers believe was misleading or else face a criminal investigation. This development followed Reuters’ evidence-backed report that showed how the industry powerhouse’s India branch had systematically manufactured knockoffs of popular goods and rigged search results to boost its own products over the original items. 

Addressed to Amazon chief executive Andy Jassy, the letter highlighted the business practices that the e-commerce giant previously denied engaging in. The brainchild of Jeff Bezos, Amazon hosts a third-party marketplace where independent sellers list millions of products. A significant chunk of the goods sold on the website come from its about two million sellers—third-party merchants that the multinational tech company profits off from by charging them fees. 

Back in 2019, The Wall Street Journal exposed Amazon’s strategic utilization of sensitive, confidential information for its benefit, using data about its sellers, their products, and transactions to launch competing products. However, an executive claimed that the allegations have no ground in statements at a hearing in July 2019, saying that the company adheres to a policy against such practice. 

This new correspondence by the panel, which was signed by Pramila Jayapal, David Cicilline, Ken Buck, Jerrold Nadler, and Matt Gaetz, is not the first of its kind then. The Subcommittee members stated, “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 light of the serious nature of this matter, we are providing you with a final opportunity to provide exculpatory evidence to corroborate the prior testimony and statements on behalf of Amazon to the Committee. 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.”

In response, the internet-based enterprise asserted that it had been nothing but truthful. “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,” a representative shared. “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.”

Amazon’s CEO has until the first of November to deliver a sworn response to clarify its use of private information to develop and market its own line of products. In the meantime, the digital retailer is expected to continue receiving heat, especially from lawmakers and the public alike. Senator Elizabeth Warren, one of its most high-profile critics, has called for breaking up the company. Targeting Amazon’s India branch, a group representing millions of retailers has clamored for the government to take serious action against the e-commerce titan.

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