FTC accuses Bezos and other Amazon executives of deleting text messages

The Federal Trade Commission accuses Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and other top company executives of using disappearing messaging apps, such as Signal, to hide potential evidence in connection with the he ongoing antitrust case against the e-commerce giant.

“For years, top Amazon executives, including founder and former CEO Jeff Bezos, have discussed sensitive business issues, including antitrust, over encrypted messaging app Signal instead of email,” a statement said. the FTC said in a document filed Thursday evening. “These executives activated Signal’s “missing message” feature, which irrevocably destroys messages, even after Amazon was informed that plaintiffs were investigating its conduct. »

The agency, which first accused Amazon of intentionally deleting posts in its initial antitrust complaint last fall, is now asking a U.S. District Court judge to order the company to turn over the documents related to its data processing. It’s the latest salvo in a landmark case in which the FTC says Amazon abused its dominance in e-commerce to crush merchants and bury rivals, driving up prices for customers.

Bezos owns the Washington Post.

“The FTC’s claims are baseless,” Amazon spokesperson Tim Doyle said in a statement, responding to the filing alleging destruction of evidence. “Amazon voluntarily disclosed to the FTC its employees’ limited use of Signal years ago, painstakingly collected Signal conversations on its employees’ phones, and allowed agency staff to inspect those conversations even when they had nothing to do with the FTC investigation. The FTC has a complete picture of Amazon’s decision-making in this case, including 1.7 million documents from sources including email, internal messaging apps, and laptops (among other sources ), and more than 100 terabytes of data.

Once a company knows it is being sued or likely to be sued, it has a legal duty to preserve documents and communications that may be relevant to the case. But in several court cases in recent years, defendants have been accused of intentionally switching to encrypted private messaging apps like Signal, which can be set to permanently erase messages after a certain amount of time, leaving no trace of what happened. that was said.

According to the FTC filing, Bezos was behind the use of Signal within Amazon, which allegedly began in 2019. The FTC said he first sent Amazon a letter asking it to keep records. documents in June 2019, warning the company that the agency was investigating. for possible unfair competition practices. But Amazon didn’t notify Bezos itself until April 2020, the FTC claims, and various executives continued to use Signal’s disappearing message feature even after that. The company did not disclose the problem to the FTC until March 2022, the filing adds – days before a Wall Street Journal. story that publicized the use of the application by Amazon executives.

“Although the contents of deleted messages are impossible to recover, the app indicates when a user activates, deactivates the disappearing messages function or changes the deletion timer, leaving a breadcrumb trail showing that the deletions of the leaders of ‘Amazon were widespread,’ the filing says. He adds: “From the messages that were not removed, it appears that Amazon executives used Signal to discuss competitive business issues. »

Other executives accused of intentionally using encrypted and vanished messages to interfere with legal proceedings include current CEO Andy Jassy, ​​general counsel David Zapolsky, former Worldwide Consumer CEO Jeff Wilke and l Former CEO of Global Operations Dave Clark.

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Sara Adm

Aimant les mots, Sara Smith a commencé à écrire dès son plus jeune âge. En tant qu'éditeur en chef de son journal scolaire, il met en valeur ses compétences en racontant des récits impactants. Smith a ensuite étudié le journalisme à l'université Columbia, où il est diplômé en tête de sa classe. Après avoir étudié au New York Times, Sara décroche un poste de journaliste de nouvelles. Depuis dix ans, il a couvert des événements majeurs tels que les élections présidentielles et les catastrophes naturelles. Il a été acclamé pour sa capacité à créer des récits captivants qui capturent l'expérience humaine.
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