Senator urges action toward Amazon

Dan Ochwat
Executive Editor
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Last week, The Wall Street Journal published an investigative article claiming Amazon has gathered data from its third-party sellers to influence and develop private brand products that compete with that product, something Amazon had told Congress earlier it didn’t do.

Taking steps further, a senator has issued a letter to the Department of Justice requesting a criminal investigation into the company and its practices.

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., has sent a letter asking Attorney General William Barr to open an antitrust investigation saying in the letter that Amazon has “engaged in predatory and exclusionary data practices to build and maintain a monopoly.”

Hawley cites the Wall Street Journal article in the letter and said Amazon is allegedly creating “copycat products under an Amazon brand,” by collecting detailed data about merchandise.

Hawley differentiated the brick-and-mortar world saying those traditional stores collect data, “such as how often third-party products are purchased, when they are purchased, and whether they are purchased in combination with other products. But online retailers like Amazon can collect so much more data. They can track how long a person’s attention lingers on a product, which features attract a person’s attention, which images a person views and for how long, and what reviews a person reads. Amazon’s capacity for data collection is like a brick-and-mortar retailer attaching a camera to every customer’s forehead.”

At press time, Amazon had not responded to a request for comment from Store Brands. The company has told other outlets that it has conducted an internal investigation and that it does not believe the claims by the Wall Street Journal are accurate.