US Congress members would like to know if Amazon misled them about using third-party seller data

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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Mario Tama/Getty
  • Congress is worried Amazon may have misled it about the company’s use of third-party seller data to develop its products.
  • An explosive report in the Wall Street Journal, updated Thursday, cites Amazon staff who claim the tech giant used data about independent sellers on the company’s platform to inform the development of competing products.
  • In July 2019, an Amazon lawyer told the House Antitrust Subcommittee – contra the WSJ – that Amazon doesn’t “use individual seller data directly to compete” with third-party sellers on its online marketplace.
  • Unsurprisingly, therefore, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said the WSJ’s explosive report “raises deep concerns about Amazon’s apparent lack of candor.”
  • An Amazon spokesman told Business Insider that, while the firm “doesn’t believe these claims made by the Wall Street Journal are accurate,” it has launched an internal investigation.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

US members of Congress would like to know Amazon misled them about the company’s use of third-party seller data to develop its products.

An explosive report in the Wall Street Journal, updated Thursday, cites Amazon staff who claim the tech giant used data about independent sellers on the company’s platform to inform the development of competing products – a practice it’s long been suspected of engaging in.

In July 2019, an Amazon lawyer told the House antitrust subcommittee – contra the WSJ – that Amazon doesn’t “use individual seller data directly to compete” with third-party sellers on its online marketplace.

Unsurprisingly, therefore, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said the WSJ’s explosive report “raises deep concerns about Amazon’s apparent lack of candor.”

And Rep. David Cicilline, who leads the subcommittee, told Recode: “At best, Amazon’s witness appears to have misrepresented key aspects of Amazon’s business practices while omitting important details in response to pointed questioning. At worst, the witness Amazon sent to speak on its behalf may have lied to Congress.”

The EU has been investigating the tech giant on its treatment of third-party seller data since at least 2018.

The WSJ controversy is one of several to have engulfed Amazon in recent weeks.

Chief among them is its alleged mistreatment of some workers at its warehouses, who have variously accused the tech giant of disregarding staff safety and even suppressing worker dissent. Some Amazon workers are planning to call in sick on Friday to protest the company’s firing of two long-time, outspoken employees.

An Amazon spokesman told Business Insider that, while the firm “doesn’t believe these claims made by the Wall Street Journal are accurate,” it has launched an internal investigation.

“It’s simply incorrect to say that Amazon was intentionally misleading in our testimony,” he added. “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.”