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

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Federal regulators are ordering Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and CEO Andy Jassy to testify in the federal government’s investigation of Amazon Prime, rejecting the corporate’s criticism that the executives are being unfairly confused in the probe of the preferred streaming and buying groceries provider.

The Federal Trade Commission issued an order overdue Wednesday denying Amazon’s request to cancel civil subpoenas despatched in June to Bezos, the Seattle-based corporate’s former CEO, and Jassy. The order additionally units a closing date of Jan. 20 for the final touch of all testimony by way of Bezos, Jassy and 15 different senior executives, who additionally had been subpoenaed.

Jassy took over the helm of the net retail and tech massive from Bezos, one of the most global’s richest people, in July 2021. Bezos turned into government chairman.

Amazon hasn’t made the case that the subpoenas “present undue burdens in terms of scope or timing,” FTC Commissioner Christine Wilson mentioned in the order on behalf of the company. However, the FTC did agreed to adjust some provisions of the subpoenas that it stated gave the impression too wide.

Since March of 2021, the FTC has been investigating the sign-up and cancellation practices of Amazon Prime, which has an estimated 200 million individuals around the world. More particularly, some critics declare the corporate deceptively lures other people to join in the purchasing membership and makes it arduous to give up.  

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

Amazon needs FTC to go into reverse

In a petition to the FTC filed final month, the corporate objected to the subpoenas to Bezos and Jassy, announcing the company “has identified no legitimate reason for needing their testimony when it can obtain the same information, and more, from other witnesses and documents.” 

Amazon mentioned the FTC used to be hounding Bezos, Jassy and the opposite executives, calling the ideas demanded in the subpoenas “overly broad and burdensome.”

The corporate mentioned it has cooperated with FTC personnel to supply related knowledge, providing up some 37,000 pages of paperwork.

The investigation has widened to come with no less than 5 different Amazon-owned subscription techniques: Audible, Amazon Music, Kindle Unlimited, Subscribe & Save, and an unidentified third-party program no longer presented by way of Amazon. The regulators have requested the corporate to determine the selection of customers who had been enrolled in the techniques with out giving their consent, amongst different buyer knowledge.

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

Last yr, Amazon requested unsuccessfully that FTC Chair Lina Khan step except separate antitrust investigations into its trade, contending that her public complaint of the corporate’s marketplace energy ahead of she joined the federal government makes it unattainable for her to be unbiased. 

Reenergized antitrust coverage

Khan used to be a fierce critic of tech giants Facebook (now Meta), Google and Apple, in addition to Amazon. She arrived at the antitrust scene in 2017, writing an influential find out about titled “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox” when she used to be a Yale regulation pupil.

The FTC could also be scrutinizing Amazon’s $3.9 billion acquisition of One Medical, a concierge-type scientific provider with more or less 190 workplaces in 25 markets, in addition to the e-commerce massive’s $1.7 billion deal for Roomba vacuum cleaner maker iRobot. 

Under the Biden management, antitrust enforcers on the company and on the Justice Department had been way more competitive in difficult trade mixture that might harm festival, together with operating to increase harder merger pointers. 

“Recent decades have vividly illustrated how Americans lose out when markets become more consolidated and less competitive,” Khan told lawmakers in a Senate listening to this week on festival coverage. “Prices rise, wages fall, and our markets become more fragile and less resilient.”

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