House Judiciary Committee asks Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to testify over allegedly misleading Congress

Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos addresses the audience during a keynote session at the Amazon Re:MARS conference on robotics and artificial intelligence at the Aria Hotel in Las Vegas on June 6, 2019.

Mark Ralston | AFP | Getty Images

The House Judiciary Committee is asking Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to testify after Democratic leaders accused his deputies of potentially lying to Congress.

Seven bipartisan members of the committee said in a letter to Bezos that a recent Wall Street Journal report on Amazon’s use of third-party seller data appears to show that Amazon may have misled Congress in previous statements. 

“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,” they wrote.

The Journal investigation that found Amazon employees used non-aggregated or easily identifiable data from third-party sellers to inform its own product strategy. The report was based on interview with more than 20 former Amazon employees and documents reviewed by the Journal. 

The report appeared to contradict testimony by Amazon’s associate general counsel Nate Sutton at a July hearing in front of the House Antitrust Subcommittee, which is investigating Amazon and three of its peers on antitrust grounds. At the hearing, Sutton said Amazon does not use individual seller data to inform its strategy.   

Bezos is the only CEO of the big four tech firms — Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook — who has never before testified before front of Congress. The company has faced consistent scrutiny over the past year as lawmakers and regulators assess issues of privacy and dominance among tech companies. In addition to the House Antitrust Subcommittee investigation Amazon also faces a probe by the Federal Trade Commission, according to Bloomberg.

House Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline, D-R.I., said last week the report shows that Amazon “may have lied to Congress” in its previous testimony to the subcommittee.   

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

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