The House Judiciary Committee called on Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Friday to testify before the body after a Democratic leader accused company officials of allegedly lying before Congress last week.
In a letter addressed to Bezos, seven bipartisan members of the committee said that recent reporting from The Wall Street Journal about Amazon’s data tactics for creating private-label products calls into question previous statements company officials have made. Last week, the Journal reported that Amazon employees accessed third-party seller data to launch competing products under the company’s own private-label brands.
“If the reporting in the Wall Street Journal article is accurate, then statements Amazon made to the Committee about the company’s business practices appear to be misleading, and possibly criminally false or perjurious,” the committee wrote.
Amazon’s statements “appear to be misleading, and possibly criminally false or perjurious”
Over the last year, the House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on antitrust has been engaged in a sweeping investigation of the tech sector over potential anti-competitive behavior, including companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon. As part of this probe, Amazon’s associate general counsel Nate Sutton testified before the body last summer. In his testimony, Sutton said that Amazon does not access independent seller data to develop its own products. “Our incentive is to help the seller succeed because we rely on them,” Sutton said.
In its letter, the committee calls into question Sutton’s statements, saying that they contradict recent reporting. “Amazon has had multiple chances to come clean about its business practices. Instead, its executives have repeatedly misled the Committee and the public. Enough,” Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), chairman of the antitrust subcommittee, wrote in a tweet Friday.
The committee did not give a specific date for the hearing, but said that it expects Bezos to “testify on a voluntary basis.” If not, it reserves “the right to compulsory process if necessary.” Of the big four tech companies, including Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, Bezos is the only one to have never testified before Congress.
Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Verge, but the company opened an internal investigation into the matter after the Journal’s report was first published.
“It’s simply incorrect to say that Amazon was intentionally misleading in our testimony,” a company spokesperson said last week. “While we don’t believe these claims made by the Wall Street Journal are accurate, we take these allegations very seriously.”