On Wednesday, the Congressional Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law requested that the Department of Justice examine “possibly criminal activity by Amazon.”
The committee has been conducting an antitrust probe into whether Amazon used third-party seller data to gain an unfair competitive advantage. The referral of Amazon to the DOJ, specifically accusing it of lying and obstructing Congress, indicates an increase in tensions between lawmakers and the digital behemoth.
According to Amazon employees, the corporation used third-party data to produce its own first-party products in 2020, according to The Wall Street Journal. According to the committee’s letter, it unearthed similar information from former Amazon employees.
According to the letter, despite Amazon’s claim that it never used third-party seller data, it failed to present any proof to dispute the committee’s and The Journal’s conclusions.
“Throughout the Committee’s investigation, Amazon attempted to cover up its falsehood by presenting ever-shifting justifications of what it dubbed its ‘Seller Data Protection Policy,'” according to the letter.
The letter also referred to a 2021 research by The Markup, which stated that Amazon prioritized its own-brand products over third-party products on its marketplace.
“After being caught in a deception and repeated misrepresentations, Amazon stonewalled the Committee’s efforts to seek the truth,” according to the letter.
Finally, the letter stated that in October 2021, the committee wrote to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, offering the opportunity to give proof exonerating itself.
According to the letter, Amazon hired a law firm, which stated that the corporation has performed numerous internal inquiries. According to the firm, none of them saw proof that workers routinely misused third-party seller data or that the corporation boosted its own products on its marketplace.
In response to the letter, an Amazon representative told Insider, “There’s no factual foundation for this, as proven by the massive amount of material we’ve supplied over several years of good-faith cooperation with this investigation.”
When Insider called the DOJ outside of normal US business hours, it did not answer quickly.
During a congressional antitrust hearing in 2020, then-Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos stated that, while Amazon has a policy against the use of “seller-specific data” to assist its own-brand businesses, he could not guarantee that policy had not been breached.