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US lawmakers ask Jeff Bezos to testify about Amazon's alleged data abuse

The House Judiciary Committee say they'll subpoena Bezos if he doesn't comply.
SUN VALLEY, ID - JULY 6: ( L to R) Sebastian Thrun, founder of Udacity and GoogleX, walks with Jeff Bezos, chief executive officer of Amazon.com Inc. and founder of Blue Origin, as they attend the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, July 6, 2016 in Sun Valley, Idaho. Every July, some of the world's most wealthy and powerful businesspeople from the media, finance, technology and political spheres converge at the Sun Valley Resort for the exclusive weeklong conference. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Drew Angerer via Getty Images
Igor Bonifacic
Igor Bonifacic|@igorbonifacic|May 1, 2020 11:49 AM

Following a recent Wall Street Journal report on Amazon's use of third-party seller data, the House Judiciary Committee has called on Jeff Bezos to testify before Congress. In a letter signed by a bipartisan group made up of four Democrats and three Republicans, the committee says it believes Amazon may have committed a crime by misleading the government about its practices. 

The Wall Street Journal report the letter references was published earlier this month. More than 20 former Amazon employees told the paper that the company had been used proprietary seller data to help design and price in-house products. The claim directly contradicts both Amazon's stated policies on the matter, as well as earlier testimony the company had provided to the House Antitrust Subcommittee. Last July, Nate Sutton, Amazon's associate general counsel, told lawmakers, "we do not use any seller data to compete with [third-party sellers]." 

"If the reporting in the Wall Street Journal article is accurate, then statements Amazon made to the Committee about the company's business practices appear to be misleading, and possibly criminally false or perjurious," the letter says. "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."

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The letter comes after Senator Josh Hawley called for a criminal antitrust investigation into the claims. When the report first came out, Amazon said it "strictly prohibt[s]" workers from using private seller data. It also said it had launched an internal investigation into the situation. 

As CNBC notes, Jeff Bezos is the only CEO of one of the big-four US tech companies -- Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook -- to have not testified before Congress. Amazon is currently the subject of a House Antitrust Subcommittee investigation as well. According to Bloomberg, the Federal Trade Commission has also launched a probe into the company's practices. 

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US lawmakers ask Jeff Bezos to testify about Amazon's alleged data abuse