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House Committee Accuses Amazon Of Obstruction, Calls For Criminal Inquiry

 |  March 9, 2022

Members of the House Judiciary committee asked the Justice Department (DOJ) on Wednesday to investigate Amazon and some of its executives for criminal obstruction of a congressional investigation on how the tech giant treated third party sellers, reported The New York Times. 

In a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, members of the House Judiciary committee accused the company of obstructing its 16-month antitrust investigation by refusing to turn over information and lying about how it treated third-party sellers on its platform.

Related: US Senator Wants Antitrust Probe Of Amazon’s Use Of Third-Party Data

“Throughout the investigation and in follow-up inquiries, senior executives at Amazon engaged in a pattern and practice of misleading behavior before the committee,” a bipartisan group of lawmakers including the House Judiciary committee chairman, Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, said in the letter to the Justice Department (DOJ). “Amazon and its executives must be held accountable for this behavior.”

In 2019 the House panel’s antitrust subcommittee focused its investigation on whether the company used data about its customers to advance the sale of its own private-label products over those of third-party vendors. 

In their letter members of the committee said Amazon executives, including a lawyer who testified before the committee, repeatedly denied that the company used customer data to harm competition. However, the company has previously admitted that employees may access ‘aggregate data’ on third-party sellers that might not be as secure or anonymous as previously claimed.

Amazon, as part of the so-called Big Tech giants that dominate the modern digital economy, has been involved in several simultaneous legal challenges over its practices in recent years, as a more robust data regulation regime is being worked out by major jurisdictions.