October 4, 2022
FTC orders Jeff Bezos and Andy Jesse to testify in Amazon Prime investigation

Federal regulators are ordering Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and CEO Andy Jesse to testify in a government investigation into Amazon Prime, dismissing the company’s complaint that officials unfairly harassed its investigation into the popular streaming and shopping service. He is going.

The Federal Trade Commission issued an order late Wednesday rejecting Amazon’s request to cancel a civil subpoena sent in June to Bezos and Jesse, the former CEO of the Seattle-based company. The order also set a January 20 deadline for the completion of all testimony by Bezos, Jassi and 15 other senior officials who were also summoned.

Jassi takes over The online retail and tech giant of Bezos, one of the world’s richest men, in July 2021. Bezos became acting chairman.

FTC Commissioner Christine Wilson said in the order on behalf of the agency, Amazon has not made the case that the subpoenas “present an undue burden in terms of scope or timing.” However, the FTC agreed to modify some of the provisions of the subpoena, which it acknowledged appeared to be too broad.

Since March 2021, the FTC has been investigating the sign-up and cancellation practices of Amazon Prime, which has an estimated 200 million members worldwide. More specifically, some critics claim the company deceive Makes it harder for people to enroll in the purchasing club and leave it.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday on the FTC’s order.

Amazon wants the FTC to back down

In a petition to the FTC filed last month, the company objected to Bezos and Jassi’s subpoena, saying that the agency “didn’t recognize any valid reason for requiring their testimony when it takes similar information from other witnesses and documents, and more.” can get.”

Amazon said the FTC was pursuing Bezos, Jassi and other officials who called the information sought in the summons “too broad and cumbersome.”

The company said it has collaborated with FTC employees to provide relevant information, some 37,000 pages of documents.

The investigation has expanded to include at least five other subscription programs owned by Amazon: Audible, Amazon Music, Kindle Unlimited, Subscribe & Save, and an undisclosed third-party program not offered by Amazon. Is. Regulators have asked the company to identify the number of consumers who enrolled in programs without their consent, along with other customer information.

With an estimated 150 million US customers, Amazon Prime is a major source of revenue for the company, as well as a wealth of customer data, which is an e-commerce empire in the fields of cloud computing, personal “smart” technology and beyond. and runs the enterprise. , Amazon Prime costs $139 per year. The service added an iconic feature this year by acquiring exclusive video rights to the NFL’s “Thursday Night Football.”

Last year, Amazon unsuccessfully said that FTC Chair Lena Khan stepped aside from antitrust investigations into its business, arguing that her public criticism of the company’s market power before joining the government was fair to them. makes it impossible.

reactivated antitrust policy

Khan was a fierce critic of tech giants Facebook (now Meta), Google and Apple as well as Amazon. She arrived on the antitrust scene in 2017 when she was a Yale law student, writing an influential study titled “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox.”

The FTC is also investigating Amazon $3.9 billion acquisition One Medical, a concierge-type medical service, has about 190 offices in 25 markets, as well as the e-commerce giant. $1.7 billion deal for Roomba Vacuum cleaner maker iRobot.

Under the Biden administration, antitrust enforcers at the agency and the Justice Department have been far more aggressive in challenging business combinations that could harm competition, including working to develop tougher merger guidelines.

“Recent decades have clearly illustrated how Americans lose out when markets become more consolidated and less competitive,” said Khan. Told MPs at this week’s Senate hearing on competition policy. “Prices rise, wages fall, and our markets become more fragile and less flexible.”

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