Posted by Caroline Schwier.
Facing charges for lying under oath and possibly misleading Congress, Amazon executives are under investigation. Congress is searching for evidence to prove that the several executive member’s sworn testimony was provided to the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee in 2019 and 2020. This piece of evidence will prove whether or not Amazon’s executives are guilty of interpreting data from third party and private sellers to boost sales within their own brand. The article even quotes that Congress has written in the letter, “’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,’”. If Amazon’s executives are unable to provide adequate evidence to verify their innocence, Congress will be taking the case to a more serious level.
In response, an Amazon spokesperson elaborated on how the company has an internal policy which forbids individual seller data to be interpreted and recycled into Amazon products. However, last year’s Wall Street Journal contradicts this statement and reports that employees of Amazon regularly reversed engineered best sellers to appear as their own brand. After Congress further recited the Journal, Amazon responded how the information reported was false and misrepresentation of their services while proceeding to refuse to answer any questions that followed. Additionally, Congress discussed the matter with Amazon’s products regarding Ring doorbells and Fire TV. In another investigation, Congress discovered Amazon prevents competitors from buying search spaces and ultimately boosts their own sales. Amazon did not directly confront these findings but rather discussed how it is common practice for retailers to choose what they promote. Amazon is a part of the four technology companies investigated by the House Judiciary Committee’s Antitrust Subcommittee. And just last year, the Committee’s Antitrust Subcommittee decided that Amazon along with Facebook, Apple, and Alphabet have monopoly power. Overall, Congress is determined to ensure that Amazon is using ethical and proper business policies in their everyday operations.
After learning more about the investigations Congress is holding on Amazon, there are various business practices which sound problematic. Being such a large online marketplace, Amazon’s third party and private sellers have the right to ensure their product is being protected. Amazon’s executives agreeing to this right and then altering data to benefit their own products is a very inappropriate and unethical business policy. Additionally, the contradicting statement in a previous Journal provides more reason as to why Congress would start an investigation. The second investigation which provides evidence that Amazon is reducing competition by limiting their search opportunities also builds a case against the company to prove their guilty. In conclusion, Amazon does not have any evidence or proof other than their own word to combat the accusations made against them. Therefore, I believe that Amazon executives need to reevaluate their business practices to ensure a safe marketplace and fair competition.
Caroline is a marketing major at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, Class of 2024.