Federal regulators are ordering Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and CEO Andy Jassy to testify in the government’s investigation into Amazon Prime, dismissing the company’s complaint that executives are being unfairly harassed in the investigation into the service. popular streaming and buying.
The Federal Trade Commission issued an order late Wednesday denying Amazon’s request to quash civil subpoenas issued in June to Bezos, the Seattle-based company’s former CEO, and Jassy. The order also sets a Jan. 20 deadline for the completion of all testimony from Bezos, Jassy and 15 other senior executives, who have also been subpoenaed.
Jassy took over the helm of the online retail and technology giant from Bezos, one of the richest people in the world, in July 2021. Bezos became executive chairman.
Amazon has not argued that the subpoenas “are overly burdensome in scope or timing,” FTC Commissioner Christine Wilson said in the order on behalf of the agency. However, the FTC agreed to change some provisions of the subpoenas that it said seemed too broad.
The FTC has been investigating since March 2021 the sign-up and cancellation practices of Amazon Prime, which has approximately 200 million members worldwide.
The company said it was disappointed but not surprised that the FTC mostly came out in favor of its own position, but was pleased that the agency “supported its broadest demands” in the subpoenas.
“Amazon has cooperated with the FTC throughout the investigation and has already produced tens of thousands of pages of documents,” the company said in a statement. “We are committed to engaging constructively with FTC staff, but we remain concerned that the latest requests are too broad and unnecessarily cumbersome, and we will explore all of our options.”
In a petition to the FTC filed last month, the company opposed subpoenas to Bezos and Jassy, saying the agency “has not identified any legitimate reason to require their testimony while ‘she can get the same information, and more, from other witnesses and documents.” .” Amazon said the FTC is suing Bezos, Jassy and the other executives, calling the information requested in the subpoenas “overly broad and burdensome.”
The investigation expanded to include at least four other Amazon-owned subscription programs: Audible, Amazon Music, Kindle Unlimited, and Subscribe & Save, as well as an unidentified third-party program not offered by Amazon. Regulators asked the company to identify the number of consumers who signed up for the programs without giving consent, among other customer information.
With around 150 million subscribers in the United States, Amazon Prime is a key source of revenue, as well as a wealth of customer data, for the company, which runs an e-commerce empire and ventures into cloud computing, “smart” personal technology and beyond. . Amazon Prime costs $139 per year. The service added a coveted feature this year by securing exclusive video rights to the NFL’s “Thursday Night Football.”
Last year, Amazon unsuccessfully requested that FTC Chair Lina Khan withdraw from separate antitrust investigations into its operations, saying its public criticism of the company’s market power before it joined the government prevents it from being impartial. Khan was a fierce critic of tech giants Facebook (now Meta), Google and Apple, as well as Amazon. She came to the antitrust scene in 2017, writing an influential study called “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox” while a law student at Yale.