Jeff Bezos says he can't guarantee Amazon's policy against using seller data to dictate its private-label business has never been violated

  • Jeff Bezos said it's possible Amazon's policy against using seller data to dictate its own private-label products has been violated in the past. 
  • "We have a policy against using seller-specific data to aid our private label business, but I can't guarantee you that that policy has never been violated," Bezos told Rep. Pramila Jayapal at Wednesday's tech antitrust hearing. 
  • Bezos went on to say that the policy itself is "voluntary" in that Amazon chose to create it and that the company treats it "like any internal policy" when it comes to enforcement. 
  • A Wall Street Journal investigation from April found that Amazon was using sales data to inform its own product categories.
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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos admitted that it's possible Amazon's policy against using seller data to inform its own private-label products has been violated in the past. 

During Wednesday's House Judiciary Committee hearing, Bezos was asked by Rep. Pramila Jayapal about Amazon's private-label business and how it competes with third-party sellers on the platform after a Wall Street Journal investigation from April found that Amazon was using sales data to inform its own product categories.

Bezos replied that while Amazon has an internal policy that prohibits that practice, he can't say for sure that the company has never violated its own policy.

"We have a policy against using seller-specific data to aid our private label business, but I can't guarantee you that that policy has never been violated," Bezos said. 

Bezos went on to say that the policy itself is "voluntary" in that Amazon chose to create it — it's not a policy any other retailer has. When it comes to enforcement, Amazon would treat its policy regarding seller data "like any internal policy," Bezos said. 

Bezos' comments appear to be the first admission of potential wrong-doing when it comes to misusing seller data.

Amazon's associate general counsel, Nate Sutton, testified before Congress last July and denied that Amazon utilized individual seller data to compete with vendors on its own platform. 

When the Journal published its investigation in April, a company spokesperson said that it looks at sales and store data to provide customers with the best experience, but that "we strictly prohibit our employees from using nonpublic, seller-specific data to determine which private label products to launch."

Bezos told Rep. David Cicilline that as a result of the Journal's article, the company is investigating any wrongdoing. 

"I do not want to go beyond what I know right now," Bezos said, but that Amazon is "looking at that very carefully." 

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