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Amazon’s Bezos Must Testify In Agency Probe Says FTC

 |  September 22, 2022

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and CEO Andy Jassy must testify in a Federal Trade Commission probe into whether the company misled people into subscribing to Amazon Prime and other services, the FTC said Wednesday.

Last month Amazon asked the FTC to cancel subpoenas issued to Messrs. Bezos and Jassy, arguing that they aren’t steeped in the details of Prime’s sign-up and cancellation processes, reported The Wall Street Journal. The FTC’s staff began the probe in March 2021, examining whether the company deceived customers into signing up for Prime and didn’t provide a simple way to cancel the program’s recurring charges, according to the order issued Wednesday.

But agency commissioners said Amazon had not met the legal threshold to quash the civil subpoenas issued to the two men. 

“Amazon provides no reason why the Commission must accept anything less than all the relevant testimony it can obtain from these two witnesses,” FTC Commissioner Christine Wilson wrote in Wednesday’s order.

In a statement, Amazon said it is “disappointed but unsurprised the FTC largely declined to rule against itself, but we’re pleased that the agency walked backed its broadest requests and will allow witnesses to choose their own counsel.”

“Amazon has cooperated with the FTC throughout the investigation and already produced tens of thousands of pages of documents,” the company said. “We are committed to engaging constructively with FTC staff, but we remain concerned that the latest requests are overly broad and needlessly burdensome, and we will explore all our options.”

The requirement that Amazon’s most powerful leaders testify to the FTC underscores the depth and breadth of the agency’s investigation, which covers a sweeping range of Amazon services.

FTC Chair Lina Khan, a Democrat, has criticized Amazon and other tech companies. Amazon had previously sought, without success, for Ms. Khan to recuse herself from the investigation based on her past statements on the tech company.

The Democrats’ statement said the FTC might need to change its rules for investigations “to address the potential for gamesmanship and delay tactics that can impede critical investigations.” Amazon FTC