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Antitrust case: Amazon refuses to send Jeff Bezos to testify in US Congress

Amazon's blog late on Friday did not commit to a specific person or consideration for who could eventually testify

Amazon | Jeff Bezos | US Congress

Agencies  |  Seattle 

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos
FILE PHOTO: Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos

has declined to send its Founder and CEO to testify before the US House of Representatives Committee as part of an ongoing antitrust probe, saying it will "make the appropriate executive available" to testify.

In a reply to the panel, Amazon's vice president of public policy Brian Huseman said on Friday that they have been working with the Committee in good faith for nearly a year to provide answers and information, and "remain prepared to make the appropriate executive available to the Committee to address these issues".

Amazon's blog late on Friday did not commit to a specific person or consideration for who could eventually testify.

The e-commerce company said it would make an "appropriate" executive available to the US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee to testify about allegations related to how the company uses third-party sellers' data.

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Earlier this month, the Committee called on Bezos to testify after Democratic leaders accused officials of providing misleading statements to Congress.

The House Judiciary Committee, which is investigating Amazon's role in the digital marketplace, even threatened to subpoena Bezos in case he fails to comply. Huseman said Amazon "disagree strongly with any suggestion that we have attempted to mislead the Committee or not been cooperative with the investigation".

The committee also requested documents and communications related to Amazon's relationship with sellers, including Amazon's use of third-party sellers' data.

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A sensational investigation by the Wall Street Journal found that Amazon is allegedly using data from its vast network of third-party sellers to help develop its own private-label products, an allegation the ecommerce behemoth vehemently denied.

"We appreciate the opportunity to address questions about Amazon's policy on seller data, which, like other retailers, we use to improve the customer experience in our stores. Use of store data is the norm across retail, where Walmart, Target, Walgreens, Kroger, and Costco use store data to develop and sell private brands," said the Amazon executive.

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As even the former employee quoted in the Wall Street Journal made clear, "our seller data protection policy is well known to our employees, and using individual seller data to aid the private label business would be a clear violation of that policy".

That article confirms that any employee alleged to have accessed non-public data of an individual seller would have done so only with full knowledge that doing so would violate the policy.

"The article also conflates broader product pricing and top-seller data readily available to all and the individual seller data our policy protects. Even in that light, however, we too were deeply troubled to learn of the claims that employees intentionally violated our policy. We are investigating those claims thoroughly now, and we look forward to sharing the results of that investigation with you," explained Huseman.

The ecommerce giant has long asserted that when it makes and sells its own products and it doesn't use information it collects from the site's individual third-party sellers.

First Published: Sat, May 16 2020. 13:54 IST