Source: The Verge

US Lawmakers: Amazon lied about using seller data
The lawmakers are now urging a DOJ investigation

Amazon had denied using third-party seller data for its product development
Source: PC Magazine India

On Wednesday, March 9, the House Judiciary Committee accused Inc of having lied about its use of third-party seller data. The committee wrote a letter to the Department of Justice where the chairs called for an investigation. They asked the prosecutors to look into the retail company for alleged criminal obstruction of Congress.

“Amazon lied through a senior executive’s sworn testimony that Amazon did not use any of the troves of data it had collected on its third-party sellers to compete with them,” the letter says (emphasis in the original).

The committee specified that besides the testimony being untrue, there were repeated attempts made towards Amazon to rectify their mistake. The company was requested repeatedly to correct the record and provide proof to support its claims. However, Amazon ignored or rebuffed all of these requests that required them to provide evidence.

As a part of a 19-month antitrust investigation, Congress held a number of hearings. This investigation was the one that examined the practices of tech giants like Apple, Meta and Alphabet. At the time of these hearings, lawmakers enquired of the Amazon executives about the third-party seller data. They questioned whether this data was used to develop private-label products or to help their own products for search results.

“We do not use any seller data to compete with [third parties],” Nate Sutton, associate general counsel for competition, told Congress in testimony in July 2019. “We do not use any of that specific seller data in creating our own private brand products.”

However, investigations conducted by Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, etc, revealed the Amazon employees’ involvement in accessing sellers’ data. Not only did they have access to the third-party data, but they also reportedly made use of it on a regular basis.

The letter specifies how employees of Amazon routinely violated the policy and senior officials were well aware of the violation. Prior to the report, Congress provided Amazon with a chance to clear the record or submit proof to their claims. However, Amazon neglected the address to any such problems and they called these reports ‘inaccurate.’

In fact, lawyers representing Amazon informed the lawmakers in later communications of an internal investigation taking place. They specified that they did not find any evidence of employees wrongly using third-party data. Amazon added that the search engine of their site was not involved in prioritising any of their own products either. The attorneys of the company refused to submit any documents connected to this internal investigation.