Amazon under fire for alleged obstruction of Congress

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Amazon has been flagged by the House Judiciary Committee for potential criminal obstruction of Congress because it allegedly refused to provide information as part of an antitrust probe.

Credit: Christian Wiediger/Unsplash
Credit: Christian Wiediger/Unsplash


The U.S. House Judiciary has asked the Department of Justice to investigate Amazon for the alleged criminal obstruction. In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, Democratic and Republican lawmakers claim that Amazon refused to provide information that lawmakers were seeking as part of an antitrust probe into Amazon's competitive practices.

More than that, the letter alleges that Amazon's refusal to provide the information amounted to the company "covering up" the lie that Amazon told lawmakers about its treatment of third-party sellers on its marketplace, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday

"There's no factual basis for this, as demonstrated in thehuge volume of information we've provided over several years of good-faith cooperation with this investigation," Amazon said in a statement.

Amazon adds that its own internal policies prohibit using seller data to develop Amazon products. The Seattle-based retail juggernaut also denied that it or its executives ever misled the committee.

While the House Judiciary letter says it is alerting the Justice Department to "potentially criminal conduct by Amazon and certain of its executives," it doesn't specify which executives.

"Amazon repeatedly endeavored to thwart the Committee's efforts to uncover the truth about Amazon's business practices," the letter reads. "For this, it must be held accountable."

At issue are Amazon's responses to inquiries about how it uses seller data when creating its own Amazon-branded, first-party products. The investigation also probed how Amazon treats its own products in search results.

Amazon denied using seller data and said it doesn't give its own products any privilege in search results.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the interactions between lawmakers and Amazon have been particularly contentious during the House antitrust investigation. The letter makes Amazon the only company in the probe that lawmakers have accused of illegal obstruction.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 2
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 18,011member
    "Obstruction of Congress" is a joke.  This is just a political shot at Big Tech, which is something popular amongst a lot of voters.  No chance in Hell Amazon gets prosecuted for criminal obstruction.  In fact, "Obstruction of Congress" (via not fully cooperating with documents requests)  is not even a crime.  It would only be one if Amazon directly interfered with a Congressional process (obstructing a proceeding).  I think that would be unlikely to be prosecuted too, depending on what actually happened.  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 2
    badmonkbadmonk Posts: 1,266member
    “Amazon denied using seller data and said it doesn't give its own products any privilege in search results.

    According to The Wall Street Journal, the interactions between lawmakers and Amazon have been particularly contentious during the House antitrust investigation. The letter makes Amazon the only company in the probe that lawmakers have accused of illegal obstruction.”

    This is an issue that dwarves concerns about an App store duopoly.  Though obstruction of congress may not carry much concern, a justice department or federal probe of abuse of monopoly would be a big big deal.  Amazon should tread carefully here.
    watto_cobra
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