Amazon’s chief executive Jeff Bezos botched his defense of his company at yesterday’s House Judiciary Committee antitrust hearing, failing to guarantee it has not taken ideas from its competitors.
During the landmark hearing the chief executives from the US’ largest tech companies, including Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Google faced a grilling from bi-partisan lawmakers.
Bezos, who was appearing before congress for the first time, faced perhaps the most difficult integration of yesterday’s session from Pramila Jayapal, who represents Amazon’s home district.
Jayapal focused on Amazon’s policys regarding the use of third-party seller data, referring to numerous reports from reputable sources that Amazon uses this data to create its own rival products.
When asked directly whether Amazon has access to third party data, Bezos failed to deny this stating he couldn’t answer this question yes or no”.
“I can tell you we have a policy against using seller-specific data to aid our private label business but I can’t guarantee you that that policy has never been violated,” he added.
After failing to deny that Amazon has access to third party data, Bezos was presented with a Wall Street Journal article published in April detailing how Amazon accesses third party seller data by reviewing popular products and merchants.
Once again Bezos could not directly deny the allegations, stating: “We continue to look into that very carefully, I’m not yet satisfied we’ve gotten to the bottom of it”.
The committee’s chairman David Cicilline then added to the torrent of damning questions, asking Bezos whether there is an “inherent conflict of interest for Amazon to produce and sell products on its platform…particularly when you, Amazon, set the rules of the game?”
After suggesting that “the consumer is ultimately the one making the decisions about what to buy”, Cicilline hit back quoting Bezos own words that he cannot “guarantee the policy of not sharing third part sellers data” hasn’t been violated.
“Can you please explain that to me?” Cicilline continued.
“Can you list examples of when that policy has been violated? Shouldn’t third parties know for sure that data isn’t being shared with your own line of competitors?”
Bezos’ responded stating that it was “important to understand we have a policy against using the individual seller data to compete with our private label products”.