Amazon provides testimony to Congress, however would not promise Jeff Bezos
The tech large tells lawmakers it would make the "applicable Amazon government" accessible.
Amazon in a letter Friday instructed House lawmakers it might make the "applicable" government accessible to testify earlier than Congress on whether or not Amazon lied about its remedy of third-party sellers, however stopped wanting explicitly providing the much-sought testimony of CEO Jeff Bezos.
The firm's response units the stage for what stands out as the most severe showdown but between Capitol Hill and one of many world's tech giants. A bipartisan group of House Judiciary leaders demanded to listen to from Bezos about a Wall Street Journal story that discovered Amazon has used knowledge gleaned from its sellers to launch competing merchandise in opposition to them. The report contradicted an Amazon official's assurances to the committee final yr that the corporate does no such factor.
"We disagree strongly with any suggestion that we have now tried to mislead the Committee or not been cooperative with the investigation," Brian Huseman, Amazon's vice chairman of public coverage, wrote within the letter, which was addressed to House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and members of the House antitrust subcommittee.
"While our groups stay heads down across the clock targeted on defending the well being and security of our staff whereas persevering with to serve prospects throughout the world pandemic, we stay ready to make the suitable Amazon government accessible to the Committee to handle these essential points," Huseman added.
Leaders of the Judiciary Committee have threatened to subpoena the Amazon CEO, who can be the world's richest particular person and the proprietor of The Washington Post. Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), who chairs the panel's antitrust subcommittee, additionally mentioned earlier this month that he was contemplating a perjury referral for Amazon.
Cicilline reiterated that risk after receiving Amazon's letter.
"No one is above the legislation, irrespective of how wealthy or highly effective," he tweeted Friday. "We have requested Mr. Bezos to testify earlier than the US Congress about Amazon's troubling enterprise practices and false statements, and we count on him to take action. Whether he does so voluntarily or by subpoena is his alternative."
The standoff comes amid tightening scrutiny in Washington for Amazon, the world's largest on-line retailer, which has seen its gross sales soar throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Democrats have accused the corporate of failing to supply its warehouse staff sufficient virus protections and criticized it for firing employees who had complained about unsafe circumstances. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has revived his long-running accusations that preferential postal charges for Amazon are bankrupting the U.S. Postal Service — and he simply named a brand new postmaster basic who might be able to assist him press for modifications.
European regulators are additionally taking a better have a look at the corporate and different on-line marketplaces, shifting away from an earlier give attention to social media.
The WSJ story touched on one other long-running antitrust concern involving Amazon — the way it competes with the impartial sellers who depend on the corporate to retailer or ship their items.
Amazon affiliate basic counsel Nate Sutton testified to the committee final yr that the corporate doesn't "use particular person vendor knowledge to straight compete with them.” Judiciary leaders instructed Bezos in a letter this month that if the Journal report is correct, the testimony is “possibly criminally false or perjurious."
They added, “Although we expect that you will testify on a voluntary basis, we reserve the right to resort to compulsory process if necessary.”
Though Amazon has disputed the accuracy of the Journal report, Huseman instructed the committee that the corporate was however "deeply troubled to study of the claims that staff deliberately violated our coverage" — which prohibits its employees from accessing sure third occasion vendor knowledge. Amazon has launched an inside investigation and can share its findings with lawmakers, Huseman mentioned.
The firm has been on the heart of a sweeping investigation by the Judiciary Committee into alleged anti-competitive conduct within the know-how sector, a probe that has more and more zeroed in on Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple.