Amazon founder, Washington Post owner and world’s richest man Jeff Bezos has been called before Congress to address charges that Amazon has potentially criminally misled the public over its use of data from third-party sellers on the platform.
The House Judiciary Committee has sent a letter to the Amazon founder and CEO calling on him to testify over the scandal, reported on in-depth by the Wall Street Journal last month, that saw Amazon exposed for using data from third-party businesses on its platform to launched its own Amazon-branded products.
“If these allegations are true, then Amazon exploited its role as the largest online marketplace in the U.S. to appropriate the sensitive commercial data of individual marketplace sellers and then used that data to compete directly with those sellers,” wrote the chairman and ranking member of the Judiciary Committee.
The Committee members wrote that if the Wall Street Journal’s reporting is accurate, then previous assurances made by Amazon to the Committee “appear to be misleading, and possibly criminally false or perjurious.”
As of September 2019, the House Judiciary Committee has been engaged in an antitrust probe against Amazon, Google, and Facebook, looking into how those companies potentially exploit their dominant market power to crush competition.
In a hearing before the Committee last summer, Amazon’s legal counsel assured lawmakers that the company “[does] not use their individual data when we’re making decisions to launch private brands.” The Wall Street Journal’s reporting has now led the Committee to doubt this assurance, and call on Bezos himself to testify.
“In light of our ongoing investigation, recent public reporting, and Amazon’s prior testimony before the Committee, we expect you, as Chief Executive Officer of Amazon, to testify before the Committee,” wrote the Chairman and ranking member.
“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. Although we expect that you will testify on a voluntary basis, we reserve the right to resort to compulsory process if necessary.”
Bezos and Amazon have issued no public statement on the Committee’s request at this time.
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Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News.