A PYMNTS Company

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

 |  April 28, 2020

A senator is pushing the Justice Department to open a criminal antitrust investigation into Amazon after a Wall Street Journal report detailed the company’s use of third-party seller data to develop its products.

In a letter addressed to Attorney General William Barr, Sen. Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) urged the Justice Department to “open a criminal antitrust investigation of Amazon.” He said recent reports suggest the company “has engaged in predatory and exclusionary data practices to build and maintain a monopoly.” Mr. Hawley said the department should look at Amazon’s position as an online platform that also creates products that compete with its third-party sellers.

Last week, on the day the Journal’s report ran, a top congressional committee investigating technology companies questioned whether Amazon misled Congress in sworn testimony from July. At the time, an Amazon associate general counsel told Congress: “We don’t use individual seller data directly to compete” with businesses on the company’s platform.

“Amazon abuses its position as an online platform and collects detailed data about merchandise so Amazon can create copycat products under an Amazon brand. Internal documents and the testimony of more than 20 former Amazon employees support this finding,” Mr. Hawley said in the letter Tuesday.

The Journal found that Amazon employees accessed proprietary data about individual sellers on its site to research and develop competing Amazon-branded products, according to documents and interviews with more than 20 employees of the company’s private-label business.