Back in 2020, a Wall Street Journal report revealed that Amazon employees routinely used data collected from third-party sellers to launch competing products for the company’s private-label business. The US Congress is already investigating the e-commerce giant over that practice, and according to The Journal, so is the Securities and Exchange Commission. Apparently, the SEC is looking into how Amazon disclosed its business practices, including how its employees used data for its private-label brands.
As The Journal notes, the SEC is in charge of regulating how publicly traded companies communicate with their investors. It can impose fines and other enforcement actions against them if it finds that they had failed to disclose important business information to investors in a timely manner. As part of the probe, which has reportedly been underway for over a year now, the SEC asked for emails and other communications from several senior Amazon executives.
After the original report from The Journal came out, Amazon denied that it uses third-party seller data to launch competing products. It launched an internal investigation of its private-label division, but it refused to provide Congress a copy of its results. Last month, the House Judiciary Committee asked the Department of Justice to launch another investigation into Amazon over a possible criminal obstruction.
The committee said back then that the company refused to turn over business documents and communications “to conceal the truth about its use of third-party sellers’ data to advantage its private-label business and its preferencing of private-label products in search results.” As you’d expect, an Amazon spokesperson denied that’s the case and referenced the “huge volume of information [the company has] provided over several years of good-faith cooperation with this investigation.”