Bezos can't guarantee Amazon used third-party data to enhance private label

Dan Ochwat
Executive Editor
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The U.S. House Judiciary Committee got its wish to have Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos testify before an antitrust subcommittee on Wednesday, and Bezos said he couldn’t give a clear guarantee or confirmation that the e-tailer has used third-party data to enhance its private label products.

Despite that comment, Bezos’ testimony stuck fairly close to the written statement that the company put out earlier in the year.

The Amazon blog has posted Bezos' opening statement in its entirety.

Several news outlets covered the testimony that included visits from three other tech giants, too: CEOs from Apple, Google and Facebook also met with the House Judiciary Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee, aiming to set its sights on the “dominance of online platforms,” as the committee titled the hearing.

"More than a year ago, this subcommittee launched an investigation into digital markets. Our two objectives have been to document competition problems in the digital economy, and to evaluate whether the current antitrust framework is able to properly address them,” said chair David Cicilline (D-R.I.) in opening remarks. “We have received millions of pages of evidence from these firms, as well as documents and submissions from more than 100 market participants. We also conducted hundreds of hours of interviews.”

He said the investigation has included five hearings to examine the effects of online market power on innovation and entrepreneurship; data privacy; a free and diverse press; and independent businesses in the online marketplace.

For Amazon’s part, Bezos reiterated that the company has a policy against using third-party seller data to influence and promote gains of its private labels, but he couldn’t outright “guarantee” that Amazon hasn’t violated the policy.

He said during the hearing that roughly 60% of its sales come from third-party sellers and it hosts more than 2.5 million third-party sellers in its online marketplace.

The committee suggested that Amazon could use its technology like Alexa to tout private brand products in a way that third-party sellers could not, but Bezos maintained promoting private label products is a standard way of doing business in retail.