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FTC Orders Jeff Bezos And Andy Jassy To Testify In Amazon Prime Investigation

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Federal regulators are asking Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and CEO Andy Jassy to testify in the government’s investigation into Amazon Prime, rejecting the company’s complaint that executives are being unfairly harassed in the investigation into the popular streaming and shopping service.

The Federal Trade Commission issued an injunction late Wednesday rejecting Amazon’s request to cancel the civil subpoenas sent to Bezos, the former CEO of the Seattle-based company, and Jassy in June. The injunction also sets a January 20 deadline for the completion of all testimony by Bezos, Jassy and 15 other senior executives, who were also subpoenaed.

Jassy took over of the online retail and tech giant from Bezos, one of the world’s richest individuals, in July 2021. Bezos became executive chairman.

Amazon has not claimed that the subpoenas are “disproportionately burdensome in terms of scope or timing,” FTC Commissioner Christine Wilson said in the warrant on behalf of the agency. However, the FTC agreed to change some provisions of the subpoenas that it believed seemed too broad.

As of March 2021, the FTC has been investigating the opt-in and cancellation practices of Amazon Prime, which has an estimated 200 million members worldwide. More specifically, some critics claim that the company deceitful lures people to sign up for the buying club and makes it hard to quit.

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

Amazon wants FTC to pull out

In a petition to the FTC filed last month, the company objected to the subpoenas against Bezos and Jassy, ​​saying the agency “has found no legitimate reason to need their testimony when it can provide the same information and more.” obtaining other witnesses and documents.”

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Amazon said the FTC was pursuing Bezos, Jassy and the other executives, calling the information demanded in the subpoenas “too broad and cumbersome.”

The company said it has worked with FTC officials to provide relevant information and provide some 37,000 pages of documents.

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

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

Last year, Amazon unsuccessfully asked FTC Chairman Lina Khan to waive separate antitrust investigations into his company, arguing that her public criticism of the company’s market power before joining the government made it impossible for her to be impartial.

Antitrust Policy Reactivated

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

The FTC is also investigating Amazon’s $3.9 Billion Acquisition of One Medical, a concierge-style medical service with approximately 190 offices in 25 markets, as well as the e-commerce giant $1.7 billion deal for Roomba vacuum cleaner maker iRobot.

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

“The past few decades have vividly illustrated how Americans lose out when markets become more consolidated and less competitive,” Khan says. told lawmakers in a Senate hearing this week on competition policy. “Prices are rising, wages are falling and our markets are becoming more vulnerable and less resilient.”

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