Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos told a congressional antitrust hearing on Wednesday that he was unsure if his company had used the data of third-party sellers to inform Amazon’s business decisions, in violation of its own policies.
Bezos made the admission during questioning by Representative Pramila Jayapal (D., Wash.), whose district in Seattle is home to Amazon headquarters. Amazon has faced accusations from former employees that the company has used data from third-party sellers to market and manufacture its own products, which often directly imitate the most popular third-party products, to the detriment of those independent sellers.
“Does Amazon ever access and use third-party seller data when making business decisions?” Jayapal asked.
“We have a policy against using seller-specific data to aide our private label business, but I can’t guarantee you that that policy has never been violated,” Bezos responded.
Representative David Cicilline (D., R.I.) returned to Jayapal’s concerns later in the hearing.
“The evidence we’ve collected shows that Amazon is only interested in exploiting its monopoly power over the e-commerce marketplace,” Cicilline said. “This investigation makes clear that Amazon’s dual role as a platform operator and competing seller on that platform is fundamentally anti-competive, and Congress must act.”
In April of this year, Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) told National Review that the Federal Trade Commission would require an overhaul because the commission “isn’t capable of dealing with today’s tech issues” in its current form.
“Amazon managers are reportedly stealing data from third parties and ripping off their products even though Amazon told Congress last year that they don’t,” Hawley said. “Stealing data to learn secrets about its competitors isn’t the free market.”