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Jeff Bezos is willing to testify about Amazon's use of seller data

Last month, it seemed Amazon didn't want its CEO appearing before Congress.
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Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos speaks to the media on the companys sustainability efforts on September 19, 2019 in Washington,DC. - Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced Thursday the new Climate Pledge, with the goal of reaching the Paris climate accord goals 10 years early. Amazon will become the first signatory of the pledge. (Photo by Eric BARADAT / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images)
ERIC BARADAT via Getty Images

Jeff Bezos is willing to testify before Congress about Amazon's competitive practices. According to a letter obtained by The New York Times and several other publicationsa lawyer for Amazon told the House Judiciary Committee Bezos will be available to take part in the panel's antitrust investigation into big tech. The hearing, which is slated to start in July, is likely to involve the CEOs of Apple, Alphabet, Facebook and Amazon.

"[Amazon is] committed to cooperating with your inquiry and will make the appropriate executive available to testify," the letter said. "This includes making Jeff Bezos available to testify at a hearing with the other CEOs this summer." 

The House Judiciary Committee is likely to question Amazon about its use of third-party seller data. In April, the Wall Street Journal published a report in which more than 20 former Amazon employees said the company had used proprietary seller data to help design and price some of its in-house productsThe Wall Street Journal's reporting appears to contradict statements the company gave in the past. Last July, one of Amazon's lawyers told lawmakers, "we do not use any seller data to compete with [third-party sellers]." 

If Bezos ends up testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, it will be his first appearance before Congress. In May, it appeared Amazon was unwilling to make Bezos available to the House Judiciary Committee. At the time, the company said it would send "the appropriate executive" to answer questions. In this latest letter, the law firm representing Amazon tried to make the case that other executives were better suited to testify before Congress. However, Amazon may have had little choice but to comply; the committee had threatened to subpoena Bezos if he didn't voluntarily agree to a hearing. 

The July hearing with other big tech companies could be just the start of a high-pressure summer for Amazon. Last week, The Wall Street Journal said the European Commission plans to announce antitrust charges against Amazon sometime in the next week or two.

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