Jeff Bezos, Amazon's CEO, was finally asked more than two hours after the Big Tech hearing whether third-party data should be used to provide information about his own products – and Bezos did not deny it.
U.S. representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) asked Bezos for reports that Amazon employees access third-party seller data to directly compete with their own products. Jayapal asked Bezos if Amazon was accessing third-party seller data, but Bezos replied that he couldn't give a "yes or no" response and they would investigate these reports.
House of Representatives
The appearance of Bezos at the hearing was largely due to an investigation by the Wall Street Journal that revealed the alleged use of third party data. This report contradicted what Amazon representatives said during a hearing last year and spurred Congress to make Bezos appear before the lawmakers.
Jayapal said a former Amazon employee told the committee that third-party data is "like a candy store … everyone can access whatever they want."
"We have a policy against using vendor-specific information to support our private business, but I cannot guarantee that the policy has never been violated," said Bezos. "If we found someone had violated it, we would take action against them."
Jayapal said the committee was concerned that Amazon's monitoring of this third-party data would hinder the smaller businesses that Amazon claims to help.
"If you monitor the data continuously, it will never get big enough to compete with you," she said. Jayapal also grilled Bezos for its third-party policies, which Amazon itself was not forced to follow.
"You can set the rules of the game for your competitors, but you don't have to follow them yourself," she said.
Bezos replied that Amazon was "proud" of its work with third parties.
Rep. Lucy McBath later voiced concerns from a third-party bookseller who claimed that her business was delisted after she began to go against Amazon's own book sales.
"What do you have to say to the small businesses that speak to Congress because you don't listen to them?" McBath said.
Bezos denied that Amazon systematically used its power to destroy third-party providers.
"That's not how we do business," he said.