House panel demands Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos testify on antitrust claims

The House Judiciary Committee has asked Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to testify before Congress over allegations that Amazon used third-party seller data to push its own products.

And the panel has threatened to subpoena Bezos if he refuses to testify.

A Wall Street Journal investigation found Amazon workers were using third-party data to launch its own competing products. If true, the behavior would contradict prior sworn testimony by Amazon executives in July, in which the company’s general counsel Nate Sutton said Amazon doesn’t use third-party data to inform its own strategies.

“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 Judiciary Committee wrote.

The committee also said there were “significant gaps” in the documentation and communications provided by Amazon.

An Amazon spokesperson told Digital Trends: “As we told the Wall Street Journal and explained in our testimony, we strictly prohibit employees from using non-public, seller-specific data to determine which private label products to launch.”

“While we don’t believe these claims made in the Journal story are accurate, we take these allegations very seriously and have launched an internal investigation,” the spokesperson added

Pressure has been mounting on Amazon to answer to the allegations, with some — like GOP Sen. Josh Hawley (Missouri) — calling for a criminal antitrust investigation into the reported practices.

However, Republican lawmakers on the committee questioned the panel’s decision to call Bezos to testify.

“Of course, our members have questions for Amazon and want to get answers for the American people,” said Republican spokesman Russell Dye. “But we wonder what Judiciary Democrats’ true motivations are. Earlier this year, they said companies like Amazon should not exist and should be broken up simply because they are large, successful businesses.”

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