There’s a “they said, we said” disagreement going on between Congress and Amazon and Jeff Bezos that might result in a criminal investigation.
Reuters did some deep researched and determined that Amazon copied products and rigged its search results in India in order to boost the sales of their own brands.
Here’s the potential problem for Bezos, new CEO Andy Jassy and Amazon in general; that’s not what they told Congress.
Members of the House Judiciary Committee wrote Jassy a letter saying they essentially believe Reuters, and informed Jassy that it “directly contradicts the sworn testimony and representations of Amazon’s top executives – including former CEO Jeffrey Bezos.”
The letter also said this.
“At best, this reporting confirms that Amazon’s representatives misled the Committee. At worst, it demonstrates that they may have lied to Congress in possible violation of federal criminal law.”
Here’s the back story. For the past couple years the House Judiciary Committee has conducted an investigation into digital markets, and that includes Amazon. They want to know how they use third party seller data from their platform, and, if they use that data to unfairly prioritize their own products.
Bezos told the Committee in sworn testimony that Amazon forbids employees from using that kind of data to benefit Amazon product lines.
Back in 2019, Amazon’s associate general counsel Nate Sutton said this under oath.
“The algorithms are optimized to predict what customers want to buy regardless of the seller.”
Reuters reported that based on thousands of pages of documents they looked at, that is not the case.
So, the lawmakers have given Jassy until November 1 to prove they company’s previous testimony.
Here’s the part of the letter from Congress that probably really got Amazon’s attention.
“We strongly encourage you to make use of this opportunity to correct the record… as we consider whether a referral of this matter to the Department of Justice for criminal investigation is appropriate.”