Amazon accused of potentially lying to US antitrust committee about its use of seller data

Five Congress members have written a letter to Amazon's CEO, accusing the company of misleading a committee about whether it uses third-party seller data to copy products.
Written by Campbell Kwan, Contributor
Image: Getty Images

A bipartisan group of Congress members have accused Amazon of misleading an antitrust committee, after various reports claimed the company used third-party seller data to copy products while simultaneously propping up its own products over others in search results.

Among the reports are claims by Reuters that Amazon ran a systematic campaign of creating knockoffs and manipulating search results to boost its own product lines in India, which is one of the company's largest growth markets.

The Congress members said on Monday that the information from these reports are contradictory to Amazon's testimonies to the House Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee. The House Judiciary Committee has been conducting the bipartisan antitrust investigation since 2019.

Amazon executives, in 2019 and 2020, appeared before the antitrust subcommittee and testified it did not use any specific seller data to create its own private brand products. Company executives, including Amazon founder and former CEO Jeff Bezos, also testified that Amazon's search rankings are not designed to favour its own products.

In a letter to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, five Congress members who are in the antitrust committee said Amazon has misled the committee's investigation into competition in digital markets. 

"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 Congress members wrote in the letter.

"We strongly encourage you to make use of this opportunity to correct the record and provide the Committee with sworn, truthful, and accurate responses."

In light of the contradictory testimonies, the committee members have requested the company to clarify the record and provide documents and other evidence to corroborate Amazon's prior testimony and statements to the committee.

Amazon has until November 1 to provide these documents.

The committee members added in the letter it was considering whether to ask the Department of Justice to undertake a criminal investigation due to Amazon's allegedly misleading testimonies.

The letter was signed by a bipartisan group, including House Judiciary Committee chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and four members of the antitrust subcommittee. These members are the subcommittee's chair David Cicilline (D-RI), vice chair Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), ranking member Ken Buck (R-CO), and representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL).  

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