House representatives rely on Amazon for answers on competing products • The Register

Representatives of the US House of Representatives say they are ready to ask the Justice Department to investigate whether Amazon executives, including former CEO Jeff Bezos, lied to Congress about whether the internet giant unfairly uses customer data to create and market its own products.

Employees in India have been accused of keeping tabs on products sold by third-party vendors that have proven popular among buyers and then developing competing versions of the Amazon brand. Amazon then rigged its product search results to unfairly promote its own products and crush the competition on its Indian website, judging by internal documents.

The files, obtained by Reuters, go against previous statements and testimony that Amazon executives and founder Bezos gave to a House judicial subcommittee on antitrust laws. During a hearing in July 2020, the billionaire space tourist said that Amazon’s own policy “prohibits the use of anonymized data, if it is linked to a single seller, when making a decision to launch products. private label “.

Amazon Associate General Counsel Nate Sutton said in a hearing a year earlier, “We don’t use any seller data to – to compete with them.” He also said that Amazon had “not used any of this specific seller data to create our own private label products” and that it was not manipulating search rankings to boost those competing products.

Now subcommittee chairman David N. Cicillin (D-RI) and vice-chairman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), as well as judiciary committee chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and others, believe that Congress has been misled by the e-commerce giant. or lied. “At best, this report confirms that Amazon officials misled the committee,” lawmakers wrote in a letter. [PDF] dated today from new Amazon CEO Andy Jassy. “At worst, it shows that they may have lied to Congress in possible violation of federal criminal law.”

They urged Jassy to submit new evidence to show the US mega-company isn’t lying about copying competitor’s products and increasing its branded versions in search results, or dealing with a possible criminal investigation by the Ministry of Justice.

“Given the gravity of this matter, we offer you one last opportunity to provide exculpatory evidence to corroborate previous testimony and statements on behalf of Amazon to the Committee. We strongly encourage you to take this opportunity to correct the case and provide the Committee with sworn, truthful and precise responses to this request as we consider whether a referral of this matter to the Department of Justice for criminal investigation is appropriate ”, the letter continued.

A separate report from The Markup showed that the empire built by Bezos consistently ranks Amazon-labeled products above third-party sellers, even if they have poorer ratings and sales. For example, its own coffee, grain, and vacuum grinder appeared when customers searched for these items, even when competing versions were more popular.

Amazon has until November 1 to respond to the letter from House officials. The company’s public relations manager did not immediately respond to The register request for comment. ®

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