Progressive senators cites documents revealing Amazon used competitors’ products to develop their own brands
Massachusetts Sen Elizabeth Warren reiterated her call for Amazon to be broken up, in response to a report indicating that the online marketplace gamed its search function to favour Amazon-owned brands that included products based off of their competitors’ exact specifications.
In a tweet on Thursday, Ms Warren wrote that a report from Reuters citing internal Amazon documents proved that the company had too much power over the tech sector, as it owns both the marketplace on which brands sell their products as well as some of the brands that are on that platform.
“These documents show what we feared about Amazon’s monopoly power – that the company is willing and able to rig its platform to benefit its bottom line while stiffing small businesses and entrepreneurs. This is one of the many reasons we need to break it up,” she wrote.
These documents show what we feared about Amazon’s monopoly power—that the company is willing and able to rig its platform to benefit its bottom line while stiffing small businesses and entrepreneurs. This is one of the many reasons we need to break it up.http://t.co/1M0Tfa2TnV
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) October 13, 2021
The senator’s comments came in response to findings from Reuters, which reported that internal documents showed how Amazon’s employees copied competitors’ products before selling them under their own brands on its marketplace, particularly in India, which is one of the company’s largest markets.
When they were unable to duplicate processes used to create some products themselves, Amazon simply partnered with those competitors directly, according to the documents obtained by Reuters.
The documents further revealed that the company took steps to ensure that Amazon-owned brands always or usually appeared within the top few search results when users looked for popular products on the platform.
Amazon denied that claim in a statement to Reuters, and denied other claims about copying products while protesting that Reuters did not directly share the documents it obtained with company representatives.
“We display search results based on relevance to the customer’s search query, irrespective of whether such products have private brands offered by sellers or not,” claimed a company spokesperson, who added: “As Reuters hasn’t shared the documents or their provenance with us, we are unable to confirm the veracity or otherwise of the information and claims as stated. We believe these claims are factually incorrect and unsubstantiated.”
Ms Warren has long supported antitrust action against Amazon and other tech giants including Google and Facebook.
Her 2020 campaign for president released a plan titled “Break Up Big Tech” which specifically called for Amazon’s mergers with Whole Foods and Zappos to be overturned, as well as the passage of legislation that “prevents tech platforms from both owning the platform and competing with small businesses that use the platform”.