US lawmakers are investigating whether Amazon has misled Congress

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Congress is reviewing the accuracy of Amazon’s statements that its algorithm does not favor its own goods over third-party items.

Citing recent news reports on how Amazon is advancing its own products over third-party items, a bipartisan group of lawmakers asked Monday if the tech giant committed perjury.

Amazon has long insisted that its platform be agnostic and not favor any company-made goods over those of other sellers.

But the House Justice Committee lawmaker cited recent reports that Amazon’s products were listed over third-party items with higher consumer ratings; and that Amazon used third party proprietary data to market copycat products.

A letter from the group questioned whether officials from the tech giant had perjured themselves in previous statements before the committee.

Amazon defended its earlier statements, denying the accuracy of the news reports, saying, “We are designing our search experience to include the items customers want to buy, regardless of whether they are offered by Amazon or one of our distributors,” said a company spokesman .

The back and forth comes as tech giants face greater attention from Washington following the meteoric growth that accelerated during the coronavirus pandemic.

The letter, signed by New York Democratic MP Jerrold Nadler, Colorado Republican MP Ken Buck, and three other lawmakers, cited statements from Amazon officials in Congressional statements and correspondence denying that the company’s algorithms were designed are to prioritize company-made items.

“This reporting confirms at best that the representatives of Amazon have misled the committee,” said the letter to Amazon boss Andy Jassy. “At worst, it shows that they may have lied to Congress in violation of federal criminal law.”

Legislators gave Amazon until November 1 to provide documents and “affidavit” answers to questions, and found that perjury in the course of the Congressional investigation is a federal crime.

Amazon defended its behavior.

“Amazon and its executives did not mislead the committee, and we have denied the records of the inaccurate media articles in question and tried to correct them,” said an Amazon spokesman.

“As we mentioned earlier, we have an internal policy that goes beyond the policies of other known retailers that prohibits the use of individual seller data to develop Amazon private label products that may have violated the policy, and we should take appropriate action.”

Congress panel calls on Amazon boss Bezos to testify

© 2021 AFP

Quote: U.S. lawmakers investigate whether Amazon misled Congress (2021, October 18), accessed October 18, 2021 from https://techxplore.com/news/2021-10-lawmakers-probe-amazon- misled-congress.html

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