US lawmakers are demanding answers from Amazon after a report published by The Wall Street Journal on 23 April said that the e-commerce and cloud computing giant gathered data on it sellers to launch competing products. The report is at odds with the statements an Amazon executive gave during the July testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. This prompted outrage among advocacy groups and lawmakers with the latter suggesting that Amazon lied to Congress.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is an outspoken advocate of breaking up tech companies, said Amazon needs to explain why it misled Congress.
"This is exactly what happens when you let a giant company be both the umpire and a player in the game. Amazon needs to explain why it misled Congress — and we need to break up Amazon and big tech", said Warren.
Warren’s statement was echoed by lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. Republican Mike Lee, who chairs the Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittee said he expects the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to look into the allegations, while Democrat Richard Blumenthal said The Wall Street Journal’s report is “damning” proof that Amazon misled Congress and is “blatantly exploiting party-sellers”.
Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, said Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos should testify before Congress.
"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”, said Representative David Cicilline chairman of House Judiciary's antitrust subcommittee.
Amazon said it doesn’t believe that the claims presented in The Wall Street Journal report are accurate, but stressed that it takes the allegations very seriously and has launched an internal investigation. The company noted that it prohibits employees from using non-public data to determine which private label products to launch.