Amazon Controversy: Why is the retail giant in trouble with US government?
After Reuters reported last week that Amazon India used data from third-party sellers on its platform and then rigged search results to promote Amazon’s original brands, more controversies have followed after it has been accused of leading five members of a US congressional committee on the wrong road during a probe on business practices.
Following up on the Reuters report from New Delhi, the US lawmakers shot off a blunt six-page letter as well as a press statement.
"At best, this (Reuters) reporting confirms that Amazon's representatives misled the Committee. At worst, it demonstrates that they may have lied to Congress in possible violation of federal criminal law. In light of the serious nature of this matter, we are providing you with a final opportunity to provide exculpatory evidence to corroborate the prior testimony and statements on behalf of Amazon to the Committee. 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," both documents reviewed by IANS said.
The Reuters report accused Amazon of secretly exploiting internal data from its marketplace to copy products sold by other companies and manipulate Amazon's search results in India, so that the company's products would appear on top.
The report alleged that one among the victims of Amazon's anti-market practices is a popular shirt brand in India called John Miller that is owned by Kishore Biyani, who has taken Amazon to court. According to the report, the retail giants copied the measurements of John Miller shirts down to the neck circumference and sleeve length to attract customers to Amazon's original products.
In the letter by the US lawmakers, addressed to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy on Sunday, the lawmakers asked Amazon to provide "exculpatory evidence" to corroborate the sworn testimony that several leaders, including then CEO, Jeff Bezos, provided to the antitrust subcommittee in 2019 and 2020.
Signatories included Representatives David Cicilline (Democrat, Rhode Island), Ken Buck (Republic, Colorado), Pramila Jayapal (D, Washinton), Jerrold Nadler (D, New York.) and Matt Gaetz (R, Florida). Some have spoken independently too.
"We're giving Amazon one last chance to come clean about how they abuse other seller's data and unfairly advantage their own products. We cannot continue to allow Big Tech to destroy small businesses," Cicilline tweeted.
Amazon, as per a Reuters investigation, has been accused of anti-market practices by using data from third-party sellers on its website to determine original products it would produce.
Reuters said it reviewed "thousands of internal Amazon documents, that the US company's India operations ran a systematic campaign of creating knockoffs and manipulating search results to boost its own private brands in the country, one of the company's largest growth markets".
(With inputs from IANS)