Amazon accused of lying to Congress, could face criminal investigation

Amazon logo on a wall
Amazon logo on a wall (Image credit: Andrew Martonik / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • The U.S. House Judiciary Committee is accusing Amazon of lying to Congress.
  • Committee members say that the company lied about product discrimination on its platform.
  • The committee has given Amazon until November 1 to provide proof to corroborate its testimony.

Amazon has two weeks to prove that it does not discriminate against other products sold on its online platform, a deadline imposed by the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee.

A letter addressed to Amazon on Monday suspects the company of misleading the committee and lying to Congress when it said that it does not promote its own products more than others and that it does not use seller data to create competing products.

The letter directly cites investigations from Reuters and The Markup, which claim that Amazon "ran a systematic campaign of creating knockoffs and manipulating search results to boost its own product lines in India, one of the company's largest growth markets." It was also alleged that Amazon promoted its own competing products over those from other brands.

The committee says that it is giving Amazon one last chance to prove that it wasn't lying about its practices or face an investigation.

We strongly encourage you to make use of this opportunity to correct the record and provide the Committee with sworn, truthful, and accurate responses to this request as we consider whether a referral of this matter to the Department of Justice for criminal investigation is appropriate.

Amazon, however, maintains that it did not mislead the committee. An Amazon spokesperson told Android Central that it continues to deny allegations, reiterating statements made by former CEO Jeff Bezos that the company prohibits using seller data to develop's Amazon's own products and internally investigates any bad actors that may have violated this policy.

In addition, we design our search experience to feature the items customers will want to purchase, regardless of whether they are offered by Amazon or one of our selling partners.

Meanwhile, Amazon is also facing new bipartisan legislation aimed at curbing its market dominance and putting an end to these alleged practices.

The American Innovation and Choice Online Act, introduced by Senator Amy Klobuchar and Senator Chuck Grassley, seeks to promote competition by prohibiting dominant platforms from "favoring their own products or services," while setting the groundwork for enforcement that would hold companies accountable for anticompetitive behavior.

However, Brian Huseman, Amazon's vice president of public policy, says in a statement that the bill would negatively impact businesses that operate on its platform and says that it unfairly singles out the company.

As written, the bill would jeopardize Amazon's ability to operate a marketplace for sellers, and it would significantly degrade the benefits of Amazon Prime that customers love.We urge Congress to consider these consequences instead of rushing through this ambiguously worded bill. If Congress intends to pass new laws aimed at regulating the highly competitive retail industry, they should draft language that applies to all retailers, not just one.

Amazon has until November 1 to submit documents proving that it does not use seller data to create competing products nor provide self-preferential treatment for its products.

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Derrek Lee
Managing Editor

Derrek is the managing editor of Android Central, helping to guide the site's editorial content and direction to reach and resonate with readers, old and new, who are just as passionate about tech as we are. He's been obsessed with mobile technology since he was 12, when he discovered the Nokia N90, and his love of flip phones and new form factors continues to this day. As a fitness enthusiast, he has always been curious about the intersection of tech and fitness. When he's not working, he's probably working out.