FTC orders Jeff Bezos and Andy Jassy to testify in Amazon Prime probe

Federal regulators are ordering Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and CEO Andy Jassy to testify within the authorities’s investigation of Amazon Prime, rejecting the corporate’s criticism that the executives are being unfairly harassed within the probe of the favored streaming and purchasing service.

The Federal Commerce Fee issued an order late Wednesday denying Amazon’s request to cancel civil subpoenas despatched in June to Bezos, the Seattle-based firm’s former CEO, and Jassy. The order additionally units a deadline of Jan. 20 for the completion of all testimony by Bezos, Jassy and 15 different senior executives, who additionally have been subpoenaed.

Jassy took over the helm of the web retail and tech big from Bezos, one of many world’s richest people, in July 2021. Bezos grew to become government chairman.

Amazon hasn’t made the case that the subpoenas “current undue burdens when it comes to scope or timing,” FTC Commissioner Christine Wilson stated within the order on behalf of the company. Nonetheless, the FTC did agreed to change some provisions of the subpoenas that it acknowledged appeared too broad.

Since March of 2021, the FTC has been investigating the sign-up and cancellation practices of Amazon Prime, which has an estimated 200 million members across the globe. Extra particularly, some critics declare the corporate deceptively lures individuals to enroll within the shopping for membership and makes it arduous to give up.  

Amazon did not instantly reply to a request for remark Thursday on the FTC’s order.

Amazon desires FTC to again off

In a petition to the FTC filed final month, the corporate objected to the subpoenas to Bezos and Jassy, saying the company “has recognized no reputable motive for needing their testimony when it will probably acquire the identical data, and extra, from different witnesses and paperwork.” 

Amazon stated the FTC was hounding Bezos, Jassy and the opposite executives, calling the data demanded within the subpoenas “overly broad and burdensome.”

The corporate stated it has cooperated with FTC workers to supply related data, providing up some 37,000 pages of paperwork.

The investigation has widened to incorporate at the least 5 different Amazon-owned subscription packages: Audible, Amazon Music, Kindle Limitless, Subscribe & Save, and an unidentified third-party program not supplied by Amazon. The regulators have requested the corporate to establish the variety of customers who have been enrolled within the packages with out giving their consent, amongst different buyer data.

With an estimated 150 million U.S. subscribers, Amazon Prime is a key income, in addition to a wealth of buyer knowledge, for the corporate, which runs an e-commerce empire and ventures in cloud computing, private “good” tech and past. Amazon Prime prices $139 a yr. The service added a coveted function this yr by acquiring unique video rights to the NFL’s “Thursday Evening Soccer.”

Final yr, Amazon requested unsuccessfully that FTC Chair Lina Khan step apart from separate antitrust investigations into its enterprise, contending that her public criticism of the corporate’s market energy earlier than she joined the federal government makes it unattainable for her to be neutral. 

Reenergized antitrust coverage

Khan was a fierce critic of tech giants Fb (now Meta), Google and Apple, in addition to Amazon. She arrived on the antitrust scene in 2017, writing an influential examine titled “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox” when she was a Yale regulation scholar.

The FTC can also be scrutinizing Amazon’s $3.9 billion acquisition of One Medical, a concierge-type medical service with roughly 190 places of work in 25 markets, in addition to the e-commerce big’s $1.7 billion deal for Roomba vacuum cleaner maker iRobot. 

Beneath the Biden administration, antitrust enforcers on the company and on the Justice Division have been much more aggressive in difficult enterprise mixture that would harm competitors, together with working to develop harder merger tips. 

“Latest a long time have vividly illustrated how People lose out when markets turn into extra consolidated and fewer aggressive,” Khan advised lawmakers in a Senate listening to this week on competitors coverage. “Costs rise, wages fall, and our markets turn into extra fragile and fewer resilient.”

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