House Panel Demands Bezos Himself Come Testify

Judiciary Committee investigating whether Amazon is cheating its own sellers
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 1, 2020 2:23 PM CDT
House Panel Summons Bezos on Amazon's 'Significant Gaps'
In this Sept. 19, 2019, file photo, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos speaks at a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

A recent Wall Street Journal investigation discovered workers had used proprietary data from independent sellers on the site to boost its own competing products, and that probe has now spurred a call to Jeff Bezos himself to appear on Capitol Hill. The Journal reports that the company's CEO was sent a letter Friday from the House Judiciary Committee noting it wants Bezos to testify on the allegations made by "over 20 former or current Amazon employees," as well as on info pulled from the company's internal files. "If these allegations are true, then Amazon exploited its role as the largest online marketplace in the US to appropriate the sensitive commercial data of individual marketplace sellers and then used that data to compete directly with those sellers," reads the letter from members of both parties, including Democratic Chair Jerry Nadler.

The panel's letter notes that, back in September, it requested documents and other communications from Amazon on its relationship to third-party sellers, and that the company has "not made an adequate production" since, leaving "significant gaps" in needed information. Amazon says it's cooperating with the probe, but a source tells the Journal the company has been pushing back on Bezos himself providing testimony—though it may be hard for Amazon to refuse that request. "Although we expect that you will testify on a voluntary basis, we reserve the right to resort to compulsory process if necessary," the House panel's letter warns Bezos. It's not clear when such a hearing could be held: Congressional committees haven't met in person for about a month and a half due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Read more Jeff Bezos stories.)

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